Prove me wrong…

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees the freedom of speech. However, this right is constitutionally and through some common sense to be circumscribed. As Justice Oliver Holmes stated in the case Schenck v. United States:

The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man falsely shouting fire in a theater and causing a panic. […] The question in every case is whether the words used are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has a right to prevent.

This spawned the popular phrase: shouting fire in a theater. Schenck was later overturned in case law by Brandenburg v. Ohio with a new standard of imminently inciting a lawless action.

(There are other protections to reporters which we won’t get into those.)

Thus in this country, for the most part, you can say anything you want as long as it falls within the legal boundaries. There are also defamation laws (which we won’t get into either). And also some common sense ones, like don’t pick a fight with someone bigger than you. Or telling your wife that the dress does not make her look fat… or remind you of one of your ex-girlfriends… or your mom.

So the question is and thus back to the title: why are people so afraid of opposing opinions that they will impose gag orders? This is known as a prior restraint – a form of censorship. While there are certain exceptions to the bar on censorship, again, free speech is fundamentally part of a free society. Why not prove me wrong?

It used to like that: you marshal your facts and arguments, I marshal facts and arguments and see whose argument best matches reality. Now, there are dirty tricks like flagging the comment as “offensive” and let the forum moderator block you. Or I unfriend you on Facebook. Or worse, send a virus or hack your enemy. Why not prove me wrong?

What we are lacking today is an intellectual backbone. It used to be (at least at the University of Chicago where fun comes to die and everyone is a nerd) that everyone had deep conversations and use some rhetoric and some facts to prove their point. Nowadays, a differing opinion in a liberal’s eyes is allegedly bigotry and thus by a label write off another rational being as so-called biased or uninformed. Really? That’s your best tactic? Why not just try to prove me wrong?


(if you are a liberal reading this and you react negatively, maybe you proved me right?)


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