The Tolerant Society: Freedom of Speech and Extremist Speech in America

The Free Speech Black Hole: Can The Internet Escape the Gravitational Pull of the First Amendment?
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It buttresses the political system's legitimacy. It helps losers, in the struggle for public opinion and electoral success, to accept their fates.

Mill and Bollinger promoted tolerance theory

It helps keep them loyal to the system, even though it has disappointed them. They will accept the outcomes, because they believe they've had a fair opportunity to express and advance their views. There's always the next election. Free speech underpins our larger concept of freedom. Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Category:Freedom of speech. Wikipedia has an article about: Freedom of speech. Look up Freedom of speech in Wiktionary , the free dictionary.

The Tolerant Society - Lee C. Bollinger - Oxford University Press

Wikisource has original text related to: Category:Freedom of speech. Wikinews has news related to this article: Category:Free speech. Categories : Freedom of speech Chronologically ordered theme pages to be converted to alphabetical ordering.

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Abrams v. In he was named the Dean of the University of Michigan Law School, a position he held for seven years. Vitale and Abington School District v. Eichman , the Court struck down government bans on "flag desecration. The role includes ensuring that students receive value for money. We would argue that it it is possible for a university to fulfil both its duty to protect students and staff from discrimination and harassment while at the same time allowing freedom of expression, which includes the freedom to offend. We should not give the government the power to decide which opinions are hateful, for history has taught us that government is more apt to use this power to prosecute minorities than to protect them.

Free speech, then, can either promote or undermine autonomy, depending on who is speaking and who is being spoken of. Thus, the assertion that regulating speech inevitably chills speech is false: given that some forms of speech themselves inflict chilling effects, regulating those forms of speech may actually serve free speech interests. Whitney v. California, U. Brandeis, concurring. While counterspeech can indeed be effective in some cases, it comes at a price. If autonomy includes being able to choose for oneself how and when to speak, then being compelled to engage in counterspeech is corrosive of that value.

Every word a person must speak back to a racist or sexist attack is a word she does not get to speak on a subject she has chosen for herself. What is more, as Justice Brandeis also understood perhaps better than most, the evil of some speech cannot be countered by more speech. In the article he coauthored with Samuel Warren, The Right to Privacy , Brandeis argued that every person had the right to keep truthful, intimate information out of public view. Franks, supra note The impact of unanswerable speech on the autonomy of its targets can be devastating.

Harassment chills freedom of expression, mobility, and association. Mari J.

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The immediacy and anonymity of online communication has increased both the incidence and reach of unanswerable speech. The internet is flooded with misinformation, threats, conspiracy theories, doxing, revenge porn, threats, and harassment, which undermine the free and open exchange of ideas, impair the search for truth, and jeopardize democracy. The architecture of the internet removes many of the incentives for refraining from abusive and harmful expression as well as making it harder to investigate such expression. See Amanda Lenhart et al.


As with offline abuse, the negative consequences of online abuse are unevenly distributed across society. Alice Marwick writes,. Young people also experience such behavior far more than older adults.

Tolerance Theory

Lesbian, gay, and bisexual people are also more likely to experience harassment. That women experience more frequent and more serious forms of online abuse helps explain why women self-censor at greater rates than men. If freedom of speech is intended to protect the right of individuals to express themselves and to associate with others without fear of punishment or sanction, then the fact that the First Amendment has so often been invoked to protect speech that silences or coerces vulnerable individuals should give us pause. Thompson, supra note The autonomy value is, moreover, directly tied to the value of democracy.

When speech undermines one, it generally undermines the other. An online discourse which systematically under-represents people — particularly women and people of color — cannot effectively process our various attitudes and convert them into truly democratic decisions. Citron, supra note 9, at — Brandeis, concurring emphasis added. Lisa K. Repeated exposure to false information, even in a corrective context, increases the likelihood that the false information will be remembered as true.

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Recent studies have confirmed that when people view false headlines, they are more likely to accept them as true when they encounter them again. Short attention spans, lack of education, and confirmation bias lead many people to believe things that are demonstrably false. Being constantly plugged into the internet, a medium allowing nearly unfettered and instantaneous exchange of information, has worsened, not improved, this situation.

Susan H. In order for free speech to lead to truth, it must be the case that, when people hear both truth and falsity, they will be able to distinguish the two and will be prepared to adopt the true view. There is, however, a wealth of empirical data from psychology documenting and describing the failures of rational assessment to which people are prone. There are innumerable examples of ideas we now believe to be false that have convinced large numbers of people for long enough periods of time to do substantial harm in the world.

It is possible, of course, that truth will triumph in the long run, but such examples suggest that the long run may, in some cases, be longer than we can afford to wait. This is because First Amendment doctrine is deeply hostile to all censorship based upon viewpoint-based discrimination, as well as to content-based discrimination.

It’s “Un-American” to be Anti-Free Speech: Protect the Right to Criticize the Government

THE TOLERANT SOCIETY: FREEDOM OF SPEECH. AND EXTREMIST SPEECH IN AMERICA. By Lee C. Bollingert New York, N.Y.: Oxford University Press. is going on in American legal practice, and in academic discussion, both of which are little concerned with the classic paradox of protecting extremist speech,​.

The powerful forces that shape and control the internet as we know it today are, as we have seen, particularly susceptible to the gravitational pull of the First Amendment. But as we have also seen, this irresistible force is not a benevolent one. The First Amendment threatens to swallow up democracy, autonomy, and truth in the name of free speech. The rulers of the internet, however, may be the actors best suited to resist the black hole of the First Amendment. They have both the vast capacity and the freedom to develop free speech countercultures that can subvert First Amendment orthodoxy.

Franks, supra note 32 much of the ground covered in this section was previously covered in my article Fearless Speech. Online platforms and services provide natural experiments to test hypotheses about chilling effects, counterspeech, and the pursuit of truth. Internet behemoths like Facebook, Google, and Twitter exert increasingly significant power over free speech norms and practices, and their status as nongovernment actors mean they have the freedom to act outside the constraints of the First Amendment.

These factors, combined with the generous immunity provided to them by Section of the Communications Decency Act, create the opportunity for internet platforms to undertake creative innovations and radical interventions regarding speech. They can, for example, engage in as much content-based or even viewpoint-based regulation as they wish, choosing to highlight or boost the speech of vulnerable or historically marginalized populations or to ignore or quarantine violent, false, or otherwise reckless speech. Over the last few years, tech industry leaders have finally begun to take some online abuses seriously and to reckon with the detrimental impact they have on democracy, autonomy, and truth.

More and more online platforms are confronting the reality that the best answer to bad speech is not, in fact, more speech. Major social media platforms have taken the step of banning high-profile speakers who violate their terms and services. Times Sept. The attempts to curb abuse on online platforms have not only reduced harassment and hateful speech but also fostered more speech by more diverse groups.

Freedom of Expression

Beginning in July , several major online platforms began removing content produced by Alex Jones, a high-profile, far-right radio show host and creator of the conspiracy theorist website Infowars. For several weeks, the only major online platform not to take action against Jones was Twitter.

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On September 6, , Twitter announced that it was permanently suspending Jones and the Infowars account. The mass banning of Alex Jones is only one example of online platforms exercising their rights to remove or limit reckless speech. The announcement came as a surprise to many, as only months before, Reddit had been one of the primary circulation points of nude photos hacked from the private accounts of over a hundred celebrities. Facebook announced its ban against nonconsensual pornography in March Photo hashing software called PhotoDNA was developed by Microsoft to screen for and remove child pornography.