Speaking Freely About Free Speech

A protester with a bullhorn leads chants with Rutgers University students and faculty as they participate in a strike at the university's main campus in New Brunswick, New Jersey. (Photo by Michael Nigro/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)


I think I should stop being coy. I keep saying how I am not a free speech absolutist, but I haven’t really explained what I mean, at least not for a while and some readers and listeners are understandably getting annoyed. And since I’ve been working through the philosophical underpinnings of my conservatism, I thought this would be a good opportunity to lay down some markers. (Also, The Dispatch has internal meetings this week so I have to write this outside the news cycle anyway.) 

So in the spirit of thinking out loud—and explaining how I think about this stuff— let’s start with a familiar argument of mine. 

Democratic societies depend on undemocratic institutions. 

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