NowThis News laments the consequences of free speech

November 29, 2023

By Tim Worstall

NowThis News is complaining about freedom of speech. Now, the NowThis claim is that people are unfairly being denied their free speech rights. But what they’re actually complaining – and bitterly – about is that everyone has free speech. Someone says something, they can do so. That’s the right. We also – everyone also – gets to say stuff back; that’s what freedom of speech means. 

So, “A Philadelphia sports reporter, who lost his job for expressing solidarity with Palestine. “Scream” star Melissa Barrera, who was dropped from her lead role in the franchise for sharing content condemning violence and calling for peace.” It’s possible to argue about whether that’s exactly and only what they said, but leave that aside. They got to say it – they had freedom of speech. Those who employ them, buy from them, use their services, work with them, also have freedom of speech. That’s what the concept means.

If someone says something that others disagree with then those others have the right – right – to act and say back. That’s just what the entire concept is. Precisely because it is a right, we all have it. Something that only applies to some is a privilege, not a right.

The interviewee in this NowThis video is one Alexandria Dunn. Who got fired from her management consultancy job for “I’m not seeing much on my feed about the ongoing genocide Israel is perpetrating against Palestinians, so I just want to say that from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” which she’d posted to her LinkedIn. Well, no one stopped her from saying it and neither would we. We would, as the law does, allow everyone to react to what she has said. Which they did – her employer by firing her.

About which Dunn says, “If you take liberation seriously, if you are trying to get free, if you recognise that we are not free in this country – if I can’t say “free Palestine” without losing my job, I don’t have freedom, I don’t have the kind of freedom that I would like to have.”

But what about the people who disagree with what you’ve said? Do they have free speech as well or not? Are you trying to insist on privilege – only things which you agree with may be said – or are you talking about a right, something everyone has? Because if you are talking about that second – which in America we should be, that First Amendment and all that – then yes, people are able, allowed and even righteous in acting upon what you’ve just said.

This comes down to being an adult or not. Sure, you can say anything you want. And as adults know, you have to put up with the consequences of your words. Rights do indeed mean freedoms, but life itself has consequences. 

We’re absolutists on this sort of thing. Ms. Dunn has the right – the law, the Constitution says so – to say nearly anything she wants (not “fire” in a crowded theater, as the phrase is), and so does everyone else, which means that what Ms Dunn says will have consequences. 


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