The canceling of the American mind | Greg Lukianoff

Every generation has political movements that oppose freedom of speech in some way. These movements are sometimes expressly violent and authoritarian. But they sometimes comprise well-intentioned people who believe they’re acting in the best interests of whichever group they are aiming to protect.

A key problem with this opposition is that real democracy is impossible without free speech, according to Greg Lukianoff, an author, attorney, and president of the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression.

You might argue: Sure, free speech is great in an ideal world, but we need more limits on speech because our modern discourse is full of hate and false information. It is not enough, you might think, that the First Amendment does not protect speech intended to incite imminent lawless action — our laws should also not protect speech that causes “harm.”

Lukianoff offers two counterpoints. Number one: “speech is not violence.” The second is that if you desire the power to censor speech you don’t like, you should imagine what would happen if your political enemies were granted that same power.

In this context, it becomes clear that freedom of expression is a principle worth being protected. Free speech benefits us not only as individuals but as groups: When we’re free to hear what everyone around us is saying, we’re better able to give feedback so we can collectively solve problems.