The other day during the kickoff of the Global Petroleum Show, a diminutive lunatic stormed a stage, took a microphone and began incoherently ranting about the oilfield and Jason Kenney. The nutcase was quickly and correctly dragged kicking and screaming from the stage by members of the Calgary police service.
It didn’t take long for charter members of Alberta’s social media loony left to pop out of the woodwork and bizarrely try to tie the removal of this crackpot to Jason Kenney’s “war room” which is being created to counter misinformation in the oilfield
Never one to give up, when called out on the absurd tie-in to the “war room” this person then rambled about free speech which had utterly nothing to do with this.
OK lets get to it.
Free speech is the right to speak. It is the right to hold views and to put them forward.
The right stops there however and here is where the confusion comes in.
WHILE YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO FREE SPEECH, NOBODY IS OBLIGATED TO PROVIDE YOU WITH A PLATFORM WITH WHICH TO SPEW IT NOR ARE THEY OBLIGATED TO LISTEN TO IT!
The crackpot dragged off the stage the other day had and still has a right to free speech. He could speak his view and can still do so today. What he can’t do is trespass and steal a microphone from another group in order to speak. He can’t stand in the middle of a private gathering with a bullhorn and scream his views. He can’t break into your living room and shout his twisted ideals to you. This shouldn’t be too complex.
There is nothing stopping this man from renting his own venue, setting up his own sound system, gathering his own crowd of listeners and speaking until his voice box runs out. If he was stopped from doing such, his free speech indeed would be violated.
Now on to where the right often gets confused on free speech.
Private social media outlets have every right to control who participates on their platforms and what they may or may not say. You may not agree with how they choose to control these things (I know I often don’t), but these are private entities. Your free speech has not been violated if you have been kicked off Twitter or YouTube or something.
Yes some social media giants are certainly dominating the scene and most are controlling their content from a biased left point of view. Hopefully other platforms emerge over time which respect open dialogue soon. Gab was something of a letdown.
All the above said, things will change radically if and when government controls social media controls and content. This is the road that Trudeau is exploring. If and when that happens, censorship will indeed be happening and free speech will be threatened.
Finally on to that lack of obligation among people to listen to you.
If you have been blocked on Twitter by a public figure, your free speech has not been violated. They are under no obligation to listen to you. You can still speak. You can still email or snail mail their offices. You just can’t directly communicate to them from that platform. Get over it. This is an area where both the right and the left indignantly and wrongly claim their speech rights are violated at times.
Now get out there and speak freely!
Just remember that the world doesn’t owe you an audience.