What Free Speech Actually Means

Freedom of speech means you can’t be arrested simply for expressing an opinion. That’s it.

Freedom of speech does not mean you have the right to speak on any particular platform. E.g. I can’t demand that this be published on BBC news.

Freedom of speech does not mean people have to listen to you, or agree with you. We all have freedom to ignore, or openly disagree with, other people.

Freedom of speech also doesn’t mean you don’t face consequences for what you say. Some people claim that they are forced to self-censor for fear that they will lose friends/jobs/social status. Whether this is right or wrong, this is not a violation of free speech.

Things which do not violate freedom of speech:

  • Deleting your comment
  • Blocking you
  • Calling you out for being wrong and/or offensive

If somebody does these things and you compare them to Hitler/say you’re living in an orwellian dystopia, you clearly don’t understand what that means. Unless you have been imprisoned or seen your life systematically destroyed by the authorities for speaking out you are co-opting a very serious issue for personal benefit. I would consider that a dick move.


  • I am not trying to say there aren’t other issues around discourse, I’m saying they are separate issues to freedom of speech.

I welcome discussion and the sharing of alternative views or relevant experiences in the comments, but please keep it respectful.

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