From Elizabeth Picciuto: The Real Free Speech Violations
From Elizabeth Picciuto’s “The Real Free Speech Violations”:
Their primary concern is that social, cultural, and institutional (but not governmental, except perhaps in its role as an employer) pressures will be brought to bear on people simply for expressing their beliefs. Their letter decries that people have been fired and publicly shamed for their words, that certain works of journalism or art have not been published or exhibited, that creators and academics feel constricted in what they can express without retribution.
They write, “The restriction of debate, whether by a repressive government or an intolerant society, invariably hurts those who lack power and makes everyone less capable of democratic participation.”
An intolerant society can sometimes inhibit speech wrongly. But it is absolutely not the equivalent of a repressive government inhibiting speech.
They are missing the free speech forest for a few free speech trees. Government inhibition of speech is wrong, full stop. Threatened and actual violence in retaliation for speech are wrong, full stop. Firings, deplatformings, and social stigma for self-expression are not always wrong. They are wrong on a case-by-case basis.