The Antidote to Hateful Speech is More Speech

February 3, 2017

by Dan Ward

When I first read about the violent protests at UC Berkeley over a planned speech by Milo Yiannopoulos, I was prepared to respond from the viewpoint of the middle-aged curmudgeon I’ve become.

I started a post about free speech coming full circle, with the birthplace of “the Free Speech Movement” now serving as a location for protests against speech.  Why is it, I was about to write, that young people today (“those darn kids”) seem less interested in protecting free speech than being protected from it?

But then my hope was restored by a Berkeley freshman, Shivam Patel, who was quoted at the end of this CNN story about the protest.

“It’s a sad irony in the fact that the Free Speech Movement was founded here and tonight, someone’s free speech got shut down.  It might have been hateful speech, but it’s still his right to speak.

Thank you, Shivam, for recognizing that the First Amendment protects even speech that makes us uncomfortable.


The Power of Free – Part II

January 29, 2010

by Dan Ward

Roger Pynn wrote about the Power of Free … how the word “free” is a strong driver of consumer action.

I want to write about the power of Free from another angle … our rights, as individuals and as businesses or associations, to Free Speech.

The Jan. 21 Supreme Court decision striking down portions of the McCain-Feingold Act has been roundly criticized, because it will open the door to increased spending by corporations on political campaigns.

My response?  Deal with it.

The First Amendment is not meant to be convenient.  At times it can be annoying, unpopular, and even disturbing.  But it lays out essential freedoms that help to define who we are as a country.

Many pundits, media organizations and legislators are claiming that businesses do not and should not have the same rights to free speech as ordinary citizens.  I’m not buying it.

“Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press …”

That is not followed by “*this freedom applies only to individuals, and not to businesses, associations, unions or clubs.”  The framers were sparse with their words for a reason.  The freedom of speech is meant to be expansive, not restrictive.

Some are saying that the increased power of corporations to use their wallets to gain air time will drown out the voices of ordinary citizens.  But we as citizens have a powerful right unavailable to any corporation. 

We have the right to a vote … and when we take the time to learn about issues and candidates rather than basing our decisions solely on ad buys and sound bites, nothing speaks louder.


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