I’ve always been of the opinion that free speech is a good thing. Recently, a few friends of mine have challenged that from multiple points of view. My JS Mill-esque viewpoint maintains that more speech is good. Being able to interact with one another allows us to weigh all opinions against each other, and on balance come to a good conclusion. I’m not particularly moved, although some points have more merit than others. In fact, some of the arguments have only strengthened my views on the matter. Many of the arguments are focused around the Trump chalkings that recently happened on campus.
####Speech is dependent upon power
This argument isn’t really that bad. I see it. Speech requires a platform. While all people have a platform (speech) monetary concerns and reputation concerns constrain the power of this speech. Whilst the person who put this forward provided no real solution, it is something which threatens to lessen the power of some and increase it for others. If you say free speech needs to be augmented with changes that increase the platform of the underrepresented, the premise seems to be relatively sound.
####Speech is right/wrong, and we should restrict it based upon that
I think this is a pretty damn silly argument. Those who make it might be sure of their own viewpoint, but opinions are really hard to determine as being right or wrong, let alone facts. There is a lot of dispute on a lot of issues. Furthermore what is ‘best’ is determinate upon what one things constitutes best. This kind of viewpoint, one which was somewhat taken by the UCSD Guardian recently, really ‘grinds my gears.’ Sure, some people will be ignorant, obviously. They can and will be challenged on that, but ultimately trying to limit what they say will just contribute to their oftentimes existing feeling that they are being suppressed and discriminated against.
####Free Speech isn’t the point of the first amendment
Well. It is. Admittedly it would be disingenuous to say that a trump supporter drawing chalk is the pure intent of the founders. On the other hand, the ability of all to say what they wish without fear of retribution is what they intended. It’s also the goal of the free speech movement at Berkeley, something which the left championed not so many years ago.
Sure, free speech includes most hate speech, which is first amendment protected. However, good logic and reason, as well as tolerance overrules said prejudices, should the recipient be open to logic and changing their mind. This is not the case if we don’t let open speech continue. It will lead to even more entrenching of opinions. What is ‘right’ is not always right, and this needs to be acknowledged. While prejudices are wrong, engaging those who have them is far more useful than simply ignoring them and telling them they are clearly wrong. The first amendment allows for all sorts of speech. And while some of it may not be productive per se, the costs of trying to arbitrarily determine what is useful and what is not far outweigh the benefits.