Consider Both Sides of Free Speech

December 05, 2012 by Gabe | [mmd] |

There's a lot of discussion about free speech lately.1 I happen to believe it is one of our greatest and most powerful rights as Americans and humans. As with everything, there are two sides to that grant of personal freedom.

An appeals court just ruled on a case concerning off-label marketing of drugs. I don't want to get into the rat-hole of tweezing apart what is off-label marketing and what is simply educating physicians about clinical data. However, it is important for me to consider the consequences of unfettered free speech in an age when a corporation is considered a person. It seems to me that free speech should only be granted to entities that can prove they have a conscience.2

It's a complicated right we have. We all know the old wisdom that says I am entitled to free speech but I am not entitled to yell fire in a crowded theater. However, there is no group wisdom that defines most other aspects of free speech. There are just laws that are fundamentally flawed, but they are all we have to work with.

  1. It is my personal belief that the internet is and will continue to be the greatest tool of free speech in human history. It is the grand equalizer that brings down dictators, despots and Hollywood hacks. The torrent of freely available ideas and opinions is changing the world faster than any other technology humans have unleashed. In 30 years it has reshaped communism and democracy alike. It deserves our most earnest protection. 

  2. No, I have no idea how a conscience can be proven or even detected. Ask Deckard how hard it is.