Classifying What Speech is Free

In an NYT piece, Lisa Barrett argued that:

By all means, we should have open conversations and vigorous debate about controversial or offensive topics. But we must also halt speech that bullies and torments. From the perspective of our brain cells, the latter is literally a form of violence.

But I would suspect that most people who accept her argument also tend to accept that freedom of expression applies to art, public demonstration, flag burning, and anti-Christian rhetoric of the sort utilized by atheists and hard-line feminists.

For instance, I would suspect that ‘from the perspective of our brain cells’ people who love their spouses being told that they are a part of an oppressive and regressive system called the patriarchy fell attacked. I also suspect that people who vote republican being called ‘Nazis,’ with the implication that they are morally reprehensible and ought to be destroyed causes them distress ‘from the perspective of their brain cells.’ 

 

4 thoughts on “Classifying What Speech is Free

  1. You are exactly right; I would wonder how people who advocate such thinking (i.e., speech as literal violence) don’t seem to think of the corollary examples that could be brought up against those of their own political persuasion (the violence of unjustly calling someone a Nazi, as you mention, for example), but then it is transparently obvious that this is just a tool to undermine the free speech of their opponents.

    Naturally, they are the ones who define what speech is and isn’t violence. What a shock it will be when all the studies will show that only conservative speech espousing traditional values can cause harm to a person’s brain.

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