Free Speech – Nadine Strossen

BigThink posted a great short clip about the importance of Free Speech. Nadine Strossen is a law professor and former president of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

One of the most important abilities we have is the ability to get used to our surroundings. Things that are common, everyday, all around us constantly will fade into the background. That frees up bandwidth so that when something new comes along (which through evolutionary history, was likely to mean a predator or some other threat) we can notice it more quickly.

For my generation, free speech has been something that just has just always been there in the background. Today, being Remembrance Day, it’s easier to point out that wars were fought defending these rights, but in a time that feels like the distant past and doesn’t frequently come to mind. But if it’s around all the time, you don’t notice it. And that means your brain is less likely to associate the benefits of free speech (or the perils of its restriction) with the right itself. So it starts to feel less important and the temptation arises to start restricting it.

This devolves into a kind of pseudo Free Speech, which essentially amounts to “Free Speech for those who we agree with, otherwise shut up.” Which allows you to practice censorship without realizing it because it’s filed away in your head as “Free Speech.”

A rose by any other name…

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