Gazette on Free Speech: With Power Comes Responsibility

An editorial in today’s Daily Hampshire Gazette holds that the right to free speech does not insulate speakers from criticism…

[Max] Karson began publishing offensive material while a student at Amherst Regional High School. In his crude publication “The Crux,” he sought to spread his insults as far and wide as possible. He got suspended from school twice, only to be reinstated with the help of the Western Massachusetts ACLU.

Karson is now offending people as a student at the University of Colorado in Boulder…

He declared in a women’s studies class this week that he could see why Cho Seung-Hui went on his violent rampage at Virginia Tech. He also said that, like Cho, he could become angry enough to kill a large number of people, even for the most mundane reasons. After students and faculty complained and expressed fears, Karson was arrested on a misdemeanor charge of “interference with staff, faculty, and students of an educational institution.”

Karson thinks he’s doing us all a favor by pushing the limits of free speech, but free speech is not without responsibilities. Karson has a right to his opinions, but his fellow students have a right to react to what they find hostile and offensive and to protect themselves in the face of threatening remarks.

See also:

Firestorm Rages Over Issue of Civility in the Blogosphere

“That is one of the mistakes a lot of people make — believing that
uncensored speech is the most free, when in fact, managed civil
dialogue is actually the freer speech,” he said. “Free speech is
enhanced by civility.”

“Sex-Positive” Debate-Killing Tactics Stretch into Their Fifth Decade

Our opponents profess extreme devotion to free speech, yet in reality many of them freely employ debate-killing tactics such as disrespect, ridicule, misrepresentation and intimidation.
Tactics like these have a history in this debate that stretches back
for nearly half a century. They have been effective at skewing the
public dialogue over issues of love, sex, relationships and the rights
of communities, even as the evidence of the harm of porn and adult enterprises piles up into a mountain.

George Will: “Anger Is All The Rage”

Back in March we discussed the bile and vitriol
on offer at MoPornNorthampton, and the consequences for the quality of
public debate. Peter Brooks of TalkBackNorthampton considered the
matter, then issued a defense of “trash talk”. George Will discusses this phenomenon in “Anger Is All The Rage”, published March 25 by The Washington Post…

An Open Letter to Barry and Annette Goldberg of Longmeadow, MA

Your leasing agent, R.J. Greeley Co., is a member of the National
Association of Realtors, and subscribes to their code of ethics. This
code states that the interests of the nation and its citizens “impose
obligations beyond those of ordinary commerce. They impose grave social
responsibility….” R.J. Greeley is also a member of the Massachusetts
Association of Realtors, which observes that “One of the nation’s most
challenging opportunities in housing lies in the recovery and
rehabilitation of declining neighborhoods.” The City of Northampton has
been working on the revitalization of King Street for many years. We
fear that the proposed porn shop will stymie these efforts and make
things worse.

The law may permit you to rent to Capital Video
Corporation, but landlords also have a duty to the community to use
good judgment. We urge you to terminate your relationship with Capital
Video and find a more suitable tenant for your King Street property.

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