While all those trolls and angries are hollering about the right to free speech, what they seem to forget is that free speech isn’t an absolute.

According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and recognized in international human rights law

The exercise of “free speech” carries “special duties and responsibilities” and may “therefore be subject to certain restrictions” when necessary “[f]or respect of the rights or reputation of others” or “[f]or the protection of national security or of public order (order public), or of public health or morals”.

Freedom of speech and expression, therefore, may not be recognized as being absolute, and common limitations to freedom of speech relate to libel, slander, obscenity, pornography, sedition, incitement, fighting words, classified information, copyright violation, trade secrets, food labeling, non-disclosure agreements, the right to privacy, the right to be forgotten, public security, and perjury. Justifications for such include the harm principle, proposed by John Stuart Mill in On Liberty, which suggests that: “the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others.”

I don’t know what the answer is, but I know we have, collectively, let this go too far and it needs to stop. Perhaps if we disregarded whether they are serious or just yanking chains and treated all hate speech as hate speech, with appropriate repercussion, we might see some difference.

Top writer. Featured in NYT, Forbes. https://lindac.substack.com/

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