I’ll start by saying that desire for courteous discourse <> opposing free speech; but the former does require some extensive restrictions on “what should be said”.
I’ve seen both sides fling out extremely discourteous language, especially when addressing someone holding a position they vehemently oppose . . . and those seeking office as a means to sway people to NOT vote for their opponents.
And how does it look in practice, where a person can say whatever they want and face no repercussions? How does one legislate that without infringing on the actual constitutional definition of free speech?
Propagation of quackery, junk science, conspiracy theories, etc. beg intervention to limit the societal harm caused by such.
Unfortunately, such problems beg questions like: who gets to decide what’s quackery / junk science / a conspiracy theory?
The ideal would be that “bad”/“harmful” speech can be countered with reason and good information. Unfortunately, I am increasingly skeptical of ordinary people being trusted to be reasonable and rational.
There’s very little immediate risk that you’re going to die from climate change, and the analogy you give probably demonstrates that there have been too many people doing the equivalent of yelling fire in a crowded movie theatre about climate change.
Not to say it’s not a significant issue of our time to work through, but we’re not all going to drown.
Certainly from a legal perspective the first amendment does not guarantee freedom from all consequences for making unpopular speech. So no free speech issues with Dr Laura being fired or various people being canceled.
It guarantees freedom from government consequences.
And I think British law is (now) similar to US law in that regard, although feel free to enlighten me on relevant differences.
So I think calls for Dr. Stock to be fired are extremely worrisome. Sussex is a public university. Were it in the United States she would clearly be entitled to keep her job, and I suspect she is in Great Britain as well.
And the whole concept of hate speech is worrisome to me. I think there’s a big distinction that needs to be drawn between speech intended to incite imminent violence (“kill the gays”) vs a statement that may very well hurt people’s feelings and be an insensitive/hurtful thing to say but is not a call to violence (“trans-women aren’t real women”).
I also think it’s worth noting that in the particular case of Kathleen Stock, her language is more measured than “not real women”, but certainly there exist people who say things along those lines. And while I think it’s fair and well to judge people for the things they say, I think it would be unreasonable to define all hurtful speech as illegal hate speech.
The Left is all for Free Speech. Doesn’t mean they have to like what is said and impose consequences on the speaker.
The Right sometimes like free speech but is a big fan of playing the victim when the consequences of what they say come home to roost. Of course they are also the first claim cancel culture sucks while simultaneously embracing cancel culture when folks opinions aren’t conservative enough for their liking.
Currently governments in the US are using the government’s monopoly on violence to limit and control speech. I would think that should be the more worrying current events with regard to free speech.
The (original) purpose of the Constitution’s “freedom of speech” was to prevent the government from restricting the expression of views/ideas that are contrary to what the government is trying to do; including the criticism (whether or not justified) of that government.
If one had issues around insults/defamation, they took it to the streets in the fashion of Burr/Hamilton.