John Stossel: Offensive speech
The answer: yes, you can. But the free market may punish you. In America today, the market punishes racists aggressively.
It’s fine if the NBA — or any private group — wants to censor speech on its own property. People who attend games or work for the NBA agreed to abide by its rules. Likewise, Fox is free to fire me if they don’t like what I say. That’s the market in action, reflecting preferences of owners and customers.
But there is only one government, and it can take our money and our freedom. All a business can do is refuse to do business with me, causing me to work with someone else. Government can forbid me to do business with anyone at all.
But I wonder if today’s young lawyers would approve the First Amendment if it were up for ratification now.
“No value comes out of hate speech,” said a future lawyer. “We need to regulate flag burning … and blasphemy,” said another. One student wanted to ban political speech by corporations, and another was comfortable imprisoning people who make hunting videos.
So does free speech mean that we must endure hateful speech in the public square? No.
What convinced me that almost all speech should be legal was the book “Kindly Inquisitors: The New Attacks on Free Thought” by Jonathan Rauch. He explains how knowledge increases through arguments.
John Stossel is host of “Stossel” on the Fox Business Network.
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