There is a place for limits. I am a professor. I do not tolerate, in my classroom, disrespectful speech of any kind, because it interferes with the learning environment that I seek to foster. I am also a father, and have a similar view with respect to the need for respectful speech around the dinner table. A responsible newspaper publisher might well decline to print an article that its editors were convinced was likely to spark violence. But these limits are not imposed by law, but by social norms and ethics, which are in turn informed by discussion, dialogue, and culture. Such norms are quite powerful, and ensure that for the most part, people do not use their freedom of speech irresponsibly. In those isolated instances where freedom is exercised irresponsibly, it is far better to employ more speech to condemn it—as President Barack Obama did recently in response to the YouTube video—than to empower the state to limit speech by punishing dissidents deemed hateful or insulting.


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