Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Line Between "Free Speech" and "Irresponsible Speech"

Michael Rowe posted a fantastic entry on Huffington Post today - Death at the Holocaust Museum and the Degradation of the American Dialogue - that reflects on some of the hate-based violence of the past few days. A snippet:
There is no Environmental Protection Agency to measure hate pollution in national dialogue, and no mechanism in place to warn us when the poisonous rage spewed into the national consciousness by shock-jocks, poisonous television pundits, megachurch leaders, and oh-so-subtle politicians, has reached dangerously toxic levels.
Although he wanders off a couple of times into the cesspool he's trying to drain, it's a great voicing of the concerns many of us who are working towards a more peaceful society have about the state of civil discourse. Many of the comments are worth reading, as well.

But what can be done about it? How do we regulate irresponsible speech? Is it like pornography? We know it when we hear it? What are the implications for democracy if we try to control it?

Shit! Why can't people just behave!?!?

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