LR04: Civil Liberties | Freedom of Speech

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Liberty Revealed Episode 04 Show Summary

This episode discusses civil liberties and the focus is on freedom of speech. What can yous ay? What can you not say? Why is it even important?

Listen to Liberty Revealed Episode 04


Liberty Revealed Episode 04 Show Notes

Today on Liberty Revealed we will be discussing civil liberties. People often make the claim that Libertarian philosophy is a sink or swim ideology. This is a complete misunderstanding. Libertarians believe that the equal rights of all people matter all the time. No exceptions.

It is very common for other parties to prioritize the rights of some, but not others. Libertarians value the right of all to live in whatever manner they choose, so long as they do not forcibly interfere with the equal right of others to live in whatever manner they choose. This is what I mean when I continually say “my rights end where your rights begin.”

Most importantly, we believe the government must treat all people fairly and equally before the law. There are many things Libertarians seek to protect, so as each new episode of this podcast is released, I will go through some of the issues for you and explain my own stance on them. Today let’s discuss my stance on freedom of speech and why it is so important.

Freedom of Speech

Freedom of Speech is a cornerstone of the United States. If we take a step back and look at liberty, we find that our most fundamental right is our right to our own lives. We have the right to pursue our values without interference from anyone. We also have a right to defend our lives from violence. Only when we have true freedom to live our lives will we be truly free. Freedom of speech comes in right behind the idea of freedom to live our lives how we see fit.

We cannot pursue our own values, we cannot create or exchange values, or peacefully defend our rights if we are under constant threat of being punished for saying the wrong thing. In a free society, individuals may use their free speech to counter the speech of others, but they may never use force as a means of countering speech, especially if they seek to use the force of government to do so. I was recently at a demonstration surrounding immigration. There were police officers present to keep the peace. I spoke to one of the officers and he espoused these values I just mentioned. The officer commented that as long as people did not get physical, they have a right to say anything they feel they need to say.

Freedom of Speech in Danger

The free speech issue is becoming even more important as we have seen how the “micro-aggression” culture that has been promoted on college campuses has made its way into the realm of Twitter and Facebook in the form of conservative and libertarian advocates being banned for posting “offensive” material. Private companies do have the right to police what happens on their own sites, one can only wonder how long it will take for the government to begin overtly suppressing speech when the ideology that has destroyed free speech on college campuses has found a way to dominate the two largest social media platforms on the planet.

It may be tempting to dismiss the urgency of the free speech issue because there is no physical coercion being done, but restricting free speech is simply coercion against the mind. Wherever there is coercion against the mind, physical coercion will always follow as a means of enforcement. If we are to remain a civilized and prosperous society of relatively free people, then protecting freedom of speech must always remain at the top of our priority list.

Freedom of speech is not just a principle that leads to better education, or a more informed populace. It is a principle that is necessary in order for people to live their own lives, and make their own choices. I don’t think it is an accident that the freedom of speech is found in the very First Amendment of our Bill of Rights: the Founding Fathers knew that in order for people to be free and productive, they must be able to speak freely without fear. Defending freedom of speech is about much more than just words, it is about retaining our ability to pursue our values. If the freedom of speech is lost, then it is only a matter of time before all other rights are lost with it.

While we have spoken at length regarding what freedom of speech is, what is not something covered by freedom of speech? Yes, freedom of speech has limitations. People are not free to spread false light about others. It is not OK to lie about someone and then publish it online or in a newspaper or a magazine. Anyone resorting to that behavior will find themselves in a courtroom defending their poor decisions. To me, purposely lying about someone is akin to using force against them. Lies put people in a position where they must decide how to respond, if at all. Sometimes a response is required and other times ignoring the issue is the best course of action. However, the lies being told put the person in a position where they are forced to deal with the issue.

Lying as Freedom of Speech?

Lying about someone can also be a matter of coercion. Most lies are aimed to frame a dialogue in a certain way. People lie to force some kind of response from the person they are lying about. This is not a freedom of speech issue. Never let someone lie about you and claim they are protected by the First Amendment. It is well-established that we are not allowed to yell “FIRE” in a crowded place and we are also held accountable when we publish lies about another person. Freedom of speech has its limits, but when it is used in a diabolical manner it damages all of us.

Government\'s role is to be the arbiter of our rights. Unfortunately, when the government is forced to step in, it often overreacts by passing restrictive laws to control our behavior. This is exactly the opposite of what we all want. To repeat what I said earlier, “We cannot pursue our own values, we cannot create or exchange values, or peacefully defend our rights if we are under constant threat of being punished for saying the wrong thing.”

That’s all I have for you today. If you want to find out more about personal liberty, go to to pick up your FREE copy of my eBook called, appropriately, Liberty Revealed. Thanks for listening!

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