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Your description of the groups is oversimplifying things and isn't a very "fundamental" dichotomy at all. The key phrase is "silencing someone." There is a continuum of power that a private individual or corporation or government can have to "silence" someone.

At one end of the continuum is an individual hanging up the phone when they decide they've heard enough from whoever called them. I think most of us would agree that this doesn't violate the principles of free speech, even if the caller was expressing valid ideas.

At the other end of the continuum is a government imprisoning someone for their speech. I think most of us would agree that this violates the principles (and laws) of free speech, except in certain circumstances (e.g. falsely shouting "fire" in a crowded theatre).

But there are cases in the middle of the continuum where things aren't so clear. If I run a small blog with occasional guest writers, a lot of us would probably agree that I can choose at will which content I publish without violating the principles of free speech.

But what if my blog has millions of viewers? What if it has become more of a "news site" or "forum" than a "blog?" What if it's the largest such site in the world, and the only one with significant market share? Perhaps then many of us would accuse me of violating the principles of free speech, since I have significant power to "silence" certain people or ideas.




I'm still a bit confused about libertarianism. Is this argument libertarian? It feels like it is because you're arguing in favor of allowing people to do as they please (freedom of speech) so long as it doesn't cause clear hurt to others (like yelling "fire" and giving someone a heart attack). You're arguing for the govt to get out of our way, and for private entities to fill in gaps, without restrictions. But if what you want is this unrestricted freedom, then shouldn't you be happy about Twitter? After all, by removing Milo, Twitter exercised the very freedom you seem to advocate for. They are a private entity, doing as they please. Why should Twitter be forced to store Milo's data on their servers and serve it up to users if Twitter, a private entity, chooses not to?

I understand libertarianism in many social contexts (e.g. "People who aren't straight are not hurting anyone by not being straight, so there should not be any draconian laws against people for not being straight"), but I can't wrap my head around libertarianism in the context of all these "free-speech" arguments. I feel like I'm missing something, which would make a lot of sense considering how little I have read about libertarianism


The key thing to understand about libertarianism is that all of the arguments against governments apply equally to any organization with sufficient coercive power.

Many libertarians believe that if not for government interference, monopolies wouldn't form in the free market. Those people are right in some cases (e.g. payment processing) and wrong in others (e.g. roads). But the dogmatic position asserts that it's true in all cases, and then no corporation would have sufficient coercive power so you only have to worry about the government.

If you take the practical approach and accept that there are always going to be some private monopolies and oligopolies, or even the pragmatic approach that they actually exist today and we have to deal with them today even if the wonder of the free market will eliminate them in the future, then we have to hold sufficiently coercive corporations to the same standards as governments. And at the same time try as hard as we can to destroy their coercive power, so that we can stop needing to do that.


Thank you so much! This comment has been very informative, and I'm glad you threw in the part about being dogmatic. I had been assuming libertatians were very dogmatic about libertarianism based on the libertarians I know, but reading your comment made me realize the stupidity of that.


I wouldn't call my previous comment particularly libertarian, although some of the claims seem to overlap with libertarianism as I understand it. Most of my comment is descriptive rather than prescriptive. I certainly think you're looking into my comment and find things I didn't say or imply, like the "private entities filling in gaps without restrictions" part.

Really, what I'm saying is that there are two ends of the continuum that look pretty obvious and which I suspect the vast majority of people would agree with, but within the continuum things get less clear are offer more room for disagreement.


Sorry, I assumed you were libertarian based on your comment, and went from there. You definitely didn't say or imply anything about "private entities filling in gaps without restrictions" I just assumed you felt that way because I assumed you were libertarian based on your stance.

I definitely agree that it's not black and white, especially as you delve into the corner cases.


I find it funny that someone isn't sure whether to agree with you until you put a label on your views. Once you pick a team, they'll be free to figure out what they think.


Lol my comment started with "I'm still a bit confused about libertarianism" and went on to ask for clarification on libertarianism, a subject I know little about. The reply was essentially "You looked deeper than my comment really went into libertarianism" - how did you arrive at your current conclusion? Who here is looking for a team? The person asking to understand a point of view? The person clarifying their original message? I don't think anyone hear is looking to team up based on labels


The beginning of the comment was "I'm still a bit confused about libertarianism. Is this argument libertarian?"

Perhaps I misread this, but it sounded an awful lot like "are you on the libertarian team?"


twitter has every right to do whatever they want on their platform. we have every right to ridicule twitter for double standards.


The first amendment does not guarantee a right to a platform.


I agree with the gist of your post, however, I found this example slightly jarring:

> except in certain circumstances (e.g. falsely shouting "fire" in a crowded theatre).

Considering it originates from suppression of wartime dissent - https://www.popehat.com/2012/09/19/three-generations-of-a-ha...


I'm well aware. I don't think that opposition to conscription is equivalent to falsely shouting "fire" in a crowded theatre, but the latter phrase is still the goto example.


But the point in that post is this "goto example" is actually an example of the vague rationalizations used in attempts to censor speech. It covers two pillars of free speech exceptions which are both controversial - incitement(the case where the phrase came from), which Brandenburg vs Ohio narrowed significantly, and false statement of fact, which is very controversial, with decisions like Sullivan protecting newspapers from almost any liability vs the government.

The problem with almost all of the exceptions on freedom of speech is that they're all meant to be just that, exceptions in the most extreme of cases, and none of them are without controversy and tons of reinterpretation. Handwaving them away with the simplistic "falsely shouting fire in a crowded theater" does not do any of them justice.


I really am quite aware of Schenck v. United States. Truly. I don't agree with that particular application of the phrase. However, the phrase still does describe what I believe is a genuine instance where speech ought to be infringed. Moreover, it is a common idiom for such instances regardless of its original application to criticism of conscription.




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