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The Cure For Bad Speech Is More Speech – Take Two

May 23, 2012

credit: cliff1066

As Molly Ivins was fond of repeating, our Founding Daddies got some things wrong but they got a lot of things gloriously right. Freedom of speech is one of them. We should use it more often…and more creatively.

Here’s another great example:

I think most people—even people who agree with him—would agree that George Tierney Jr. of Greenville, South Carolina has been guilty of “bad speech” in what he’s had to say online to and about Sandra Fluke, the Georgetown Law School student who was prepared to testify before Congress in support of contraceptive services being included in basic health care plans under the Affordable Care Act.

Expressing sentiments like “when are you going to shut that g-d d-mn d-ck s-ck-r?” and “CRAWL back under your rock. C-NT” is not, even most opponents of contraception would agree, good speech—particularly when speaking to a woman you don’t know—is not “good speech”.  (And he didn’t even leave out the vowels!) Doing so on a public forum like Twitter which instantly spreads your words to a worldwide audience may make it worse, as George Tierney Jr. of Greenville, South Carolina is discovering.

Fluke’s defenders have been Google-bombing George Tierney Jr. of Greenville, South Carolina—linking his name and hometown to web sites that highlight his use of vulgar, offensive and inappropriate language.  The result is that if you use an internet search engine to locate George Tierney Jr. of Greenville, South Carolina, you’ll find lots of highly ranked web pages…well, you can try it yourself.  It’s a classic case of using one’s opponents own words to ridicule him.

Apparently George Tierney Jr. of Greenville, South Carolina has now closed and deleted his Twitter account.  Which, given the nature of the internet, means neither his words, nor his reputation, has disappeared.

The cure for bad speech is more speech.*

*The origins for this saying are generally traced back to Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis’ concurring opinion in the 1927 Whitney v. California case:  “To courageous, self-reliant men, with confidence in the power of free and fearless reasoning applied through the processes of popular government, no danger flowing from speech can be deemed clear and present unless the incidence of the evil apprehended is so imminent that it may befall before there is opportunity for full discussion. If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence. Only an emergency can justify repression.”


From → Politics

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