What Is Free Speech?
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March 11, 2024

What Is Free Speech?

What does free speech mean? To be able to speak freely is the basic meaning of free speech. It means to express your thoughts, opinions, ideas, etc. freely. It does not mean that others have to listen to your speech or host them at their business. If someone promotes the idea of free speech it means they believe in people being able to speak freely without the the threat of severe repercussions or criminal penalties. Speaking and writing is free speech but there is no guarantee anyone will listen unless you pay for an audience. Using another persons system or service for free to express your thoughts is not free speech.

People always pay in some way because is anything actually free? Media sites promote the idea of free speech all the time but it does not mean they will host your idea of free speech or thoughts without being paid. You can exercise free speech on your home computer and then access the internet through a dsl, cable line or wireless service. You then access a web hosting provider or social media site and they all have rules called terms of service. With their terms of service they can turn you off at anytime because you are using their systems and equipment.

Carrying a sign, putting a bumper sticker on your car or even yelling out the window are all forms of free speech. These are examples of what you do on your own. You are not asking someone else or a business to express your thoughts for you. If you spout off your opinion in the middle of a store, the store has the right to kick you out of their property. Even if you are exercising your right of free speech, you are on their property and this is just like using someone else’s service or equipment.

Media can only survive by cash flow. Without the revenue, such as advertising, television and radio shows are off the air, newspapers are unable to publish, magazines are not able to go to print or social media is unable to host content. To keep the business running companies always try to increase cash flow by various means. They sell your data to other companies, they increase the amount of advertising that you see or they charge a subscription. Data is a gold mine to companies because it contains all your online information, such as purchase habits, your interests and pretty much all that you do online. That data allows other companies to target you with other information and advertising. It also allows the government to monitor your habits and all that you do. They can use this data with other electronic surveillance tools to watch every purchase or move you make.

Advertising is the life blood of media. Companies pay to advertise and the more popular something is the more money it cost to advertise which means more money for the media company. Sometimes on television or radio it seems that there are more commercials than there is actual programming. Newspapers and magazines carry very little content but a lot of advertising. Do you think the money you pay for a newspaper today individually or by subscription pays to keep the newspaper or magazine operating? It is the advertising. In todays world the revenue brought in by advertising is dropping because no one reads newspapers or magazines anymore. Advertising revenue is dropping and a lot of newspapers and magazines are ceasing to exist. For social media they use the sale of data and advertising to exist. So if you think they are giving you service for free you are wrong. These companies supply free apps and software, you have to ask, what are you giving away for the freebie? Free posts and uploads. What are you giving away for free. You are paying by supplying data and watching the bombardment of advertising.

Some companies go to a subscription model to support the business but somewhere down the road that stops bringing in enough income. Look at Amazon Prime Video. You pay a subscription fee for the Prime service and now they want you pay an additional free to remove advertising from Prime video. It never ends because the subscription model always loses subscribers. There is always a price and nothing is free, someone always pays in some way. It’s like the service of free cloud hosting of your data. What are you giving away while you are storing your information on someone else’s computer? The simple answer is, all your information.

There are several forms of exercising free speech but most of them do have restrictions. Going on strike is a form of free speech but you can be arrested for blocking the entrance to a business. Protesting with a sign on a public sidewalk is free speech but it becomes illegal if you start blocking traffic or enter private property. Standing on a soapbox on a public sidewalk might be fine but standing on a soapbox in the middle of a busy street will get you arrested or run over. There are consequences to exercising your right of free speech and you need to think when you are exercising that right. Telling your boss to go to hell is a form of free speech but it is probably going to get you fired from your job. Also in today’s world of “Lawfare” you can be held liable for your free speech.

There are also rules that prevent you from endangering the public. Yelling fire in a crowded theater is not free speech as the Supreme Court ruled in 1919. Many think this decision was wrong but the opinion of Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes did give the Supreme Court a lot of room for future rulings. Today some say hacking a computer system is a form a free speech. That’s wrong because you are accessing someone else’s property without their permission. Becoming violent could in some obscure way could be considered free speech but once again you are trying to harm someone else. Making threats against others could also be considered free speech by some because it is just words or pictures but once again you are endangering someone else. This is where the vagueness of the Supreme Court ruling in 1917 comes into play.

Many have paid the consequences of free speech, some have even paid the ultimate price. Since the founding of the USA many have given their lives to protect the Constitutional right of Free Speech. Unfortunately today our politicians and those in power have forgotten all the sacrifice of the past. Today the United States is following foreign countries by jailing people for exercising their right of free speech. The US Constitution is nothing but an old piece of paper to them.

Morals, ethics, decency and religion are missing from today’s life. Years ago certain things were never spoken publicly and that was good because children never needed to hear it. As society started to break down the idea of free speech was pushed farther and farther to the limit. One such issue is adult magazines being sold in regular stores. Court decisions forced the magazines to be sold in stores that catered to the general public. The magazines could be covered but even that idea was taken to court. Little by little decency in society was being removed by court decisions and that leads us to today, where anything goes and everything has to be accepted. If you do not accept the immoral you are violating free speech. That leads us back to the question, there is free speech but should it be spoken and exercised freely?

That’s An Old Timer’s Opinion.

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