Should There Be Limits on Free Speech?


All speech that does not harm someone should be legal.

Q1 Analysis

This may be a Q1 violation if your definition of "speech" or "harm" leads to conflict with your other beliefs, or if there is speech you would like to penalize even though it hams noone.

Q2 Analysis

This is a Q2 violation if you would want to restrict some people’s speech more than your own.


Before you can protect speech, you must decide what speech is. For the purposes of free speech, which of the following would you consider to be "speech"?

Once you define what speech is, you must define what types of speech should be considered too harmful to be legal. Which of the following do you think should be legally protected speech?

You are encouraged to leave your answers to the questions posed in this post in the comments section. This post is based on an excerpt from Ask Yourself to be Moral, by D. Cancilla, available at and See the 2Q system page for details of the philosophical system mentioned in this post.

Posted on June 18, 2010 at 10:16 am by ideclare · Permalink
In: 2Q

2 Responses

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  1. Written by Middlemet
    on June 18, 2010 at 11:35 am
    Reply · Permalink

    I’m always particularly careful in my internet posting to throw in many many disclaimers to indicate that I’m discussing particular ideas or arguments, and not the personal qualities of the individual I’m having a dialogue with. One of the major principles of my own personal morality is respect for someone attempting to have a reasonable discussion. I’m pleased to have the opportunity to have discussions both with the blogger here on this site, as well as all the other people who comment. Having said all that, I’ll still try to intellectually cut an idea down if I disagree with it forcefully enough, I’ll just try to be precise enough in my argumentative stroke that I don’t injure the person who holds the idea I disagree with.

    Not everybody agrees with that reasoning, though. Others can feel that winning the argument by any means necessary serves a greater good (and can be consistent, admiring those who have beaten them by similar means). Look at politics. Massive personal assaults, some of which may be baseless, in attempt to bring the greater ‘Vision’ into the capitol. There’s frequently a fine line between what is protected free speech and what is simple an act of con artistry.

    It’s also not necessary not to harm anyone with one’s speech for it to be legal. A newspaper revealing the gory details of the BP oil spill, an influential movie critic panning a film, a spouse revealing an affair.

    Free speech is one of the most cherished of American liberties, but its legal limits (let alone its moral limits) are often misunderstood. One form of speech brought up in the post I’d particularly like to bring up is discussions on internet forums. For the most part forums are private, meaning the forum owners and moderators are in charge. An unfortunately common misconception is that these forums are in some sense in the public realm and thus they can say whatever they please, and ‘censors’ who block them are somehow infringing on their rights. I have to say, I’m quite glad this isn’t true. The internet is enough of a minefield as it is. I don’t think anyone tries to keep track of the hurtful, hateful muck thrown about. Just look at the hate mail tag on this website alone. This is different than the broader issues of internet censorship such as that practiced in China that prevents the exposure of critical or dissenting ideas.

    I suppose a question I would ask is the difference between what speech should be legal or illegal, and what speech would be moral or immoral?

  2. Written by Sabio Lantz
    on June 22, 2010 at 3:46 am
    Reply · Permalink

    I will take a quick stab. “Speech” is an act and not all acts should be free because acts have consequences that can result in forcibly taking from others.

    Was this article stirred by the recent US Supreme Court decision that aiding a terrorist group, even if only for supposed peace negotiations is illegal but 3 judges voted against citing “Freedom of Speech”?

    (this is my first post — how do you follow threads on this site?)

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