There is an ongoing argument about “censorship” of certain people and ideas on social platforms. Some think it wrong to have banned Milo Yiannopoulos for his mocking of Ghostbuster star Leslie Jones, who received a stream of hateful and racist tweets. Those who think the permanent suspension of the account was wrong and is not consistent with the right of free-speech, and in the American context, constitutional rights. Others believe the abused have rights too. It’s a balancing act. In my mail, many correspondents invoke their free-speech rights to make their comments on the CBC website. Is it a Charter right, and how do we balance free speech and protection from abuse? Kelly McBride, media ethicist and Vice-President of the Poynter Institute considers the subject in a conversation with Benjamin Mullin. Here is some of what she says:
Keep in mind that the concept of free speech is meant to allow the circulation of unpopular ideas. I wish we could figure out a way to get more diversity of speech and thought into the elusive marketplace of ideas that has become predominantly digital in nature, without rewarding the loudest and meanest or even the funniest speech.
I’m more worried about the many people who are afraid to voice their opinions because they fear attracting hate than I am about the people who spew the hate. In making these judgments, we have to consider the broader context. Whose voices are traditionally amplified and whose voices are traditionally silenced?