There Is No Such Thing as "Free" Speech

Doug Henwood dhenwood at
Thu Mar 16 07:39:57 PST 2000

Yoshie Furuhashi wrote:

>No *individual* can *alone* decide what racism is, however powerful he may
>be. How much concrete freedom -- including freedom of speech & freedom
>from racism -- we may enjoy gets *politically* decided by the balance of
>class and other powers. Having laws that protect "free speech" in theory
>doesn't help you at all if the political conditions are such that no one
>comes forward to defend you in case you get into trouble. The First
>Amendment didn't protect the Red-Purged.

Of course not, but we're talking about a principle here. I think speech should be as protected as possible, which is one reason I object to the red purge. If that means that the speech of Kluxers is protected too, so be it. Charles wants to except certain kinds of speech - "racist" speech, however he defines it (The Bell Curve? should that have been burned?) - from protection. Anti-communists could lift much of Charles's argument, substitute a few terms, and say they are just protecting society from dangerous ideas.


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