A few scattered thoughts on free speech, political correctness, and censorship:
- Learning about people different from ourselves is lifelong learning. We never get to a point where we can be quick to judge a group of people we just learned about.
- Lifelong learning also means we need to show each other grace about actions and words that harm or offend people. (This doesn't mean staying silent when someone says or does something inappropriate, but it does mean giving people time to learn and not expecting them to reach exactly the same conclusions as us.)
- Free speech is a bedrock principle of free and democratic societies and it must be protected.
- Free speech has never meant entitlement to a platform. Newspapers publish a variety of opinions in the Letters to the Editor, but they have always had the right not to publish everything they receive. Public venues have never been required to rent their stages to absolutely everyone who wants it.
- When social media allows misinformation to spread unchecked, it leads people to make dangerous decisions, and deepens divisions in society.
- When social media flags or censors misinformation, people complain about censorship and move to platforms that allow misinformation, deepening divisions in society.
- We do not have a fundamental right not to be offended.
- Words can cause deep offense, intended or not. When we find out someone is offended by our words, we should not be quick to criticize them; we should listen and carefully consider their experiences and feelings. There are times when offensive things must be said anyway.
- A few of the most vocal free speech defenders don't appear to care if their words cause deep offense to some.
- A few of the most vocal defenders of minorities are very quick to judge anyone who disagrees with them on even the smallest details, and will try to ruin careers over the smallest offense.
- There will never be a complete set of hard and fast rules about which
ideas get a platform and which don't. The debate over which ideas should
get debated publicly will never end. This is good.
Overall, I appreciate the voices that value free speech and greater understanding of people different from ourselves. These are the voices that can build unity between very different people. Personally, I want to be a good listener and to articulate clearly what I think. This takes lifelong learning.