Problems with Modern Liberty of Speech

In John Stuart Mill's most influential and widely read work, On Liberty, he defended what he considered one of the most important pillars of any successful society: liberty of thought, and consequently of speech.  And it is plain from reading On Liberty that Americans have taken Mill's suggestions quite seriously, not only supporting legislation to protect speech from governmental prohibition, but also instituting laws which protect against the so-called tyranny of private opinion.  But has this endeavor actually promoted discussion and rationality, or has it actually suppressed both? Being firmly convinced that liberty of speech is essential to the maintenance of a healthy democratic republic, Mill believed that tyranny of opinion was just as harmful to the marketplace of ideas as legislated prohibition.  He wrote: Protection, therefore, against the tyranny of the magistrate is not enough; there needs protection also against the tyranny of the prevailing opinion and...(Read Full Article)

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