[center]Websites and Free Speech[/center]
There is probably no greater advocate of Free Speech than myself. However, when someone wishes to apply this most Fundamental Principal to Websites…they are, (in my opinion), way off base. Let me explain.
As regulation of the Internet is being debated… from Committees in Congress to classrooms to Blogs…one thing is coming through loud and clear…
Websites are not being viewed as Free Speech Zones…let me say it again…websites are not being viewed as free speech Zones…
Instead they are being viewed more as private businesses and even residences. I always use Wal-Mart as a good anology…(And for the trolls? Analogies will always fall short in some area…but they are useful in order to help us understand a debate).
What You Can Do at Wal-Mart
You can go in there 100 times a day if you want to. You can go in there with smelly underwear and spandex, with mud on your shoes. You can shop with whatever “issues” you may be dealing with. You can touch the merchandise, look it over, and in some cases try it out.
You can buy mechandise…or not…
You can even unload on a poor clerk, sometimes even more than once, and you will most likely still be allowed to shop there. Hell…you can even steal merchadise then “RETURN” it for a “refund” and won’t be asked a lot of questions!
In other words, you are as “free” to shop (and even steal!) more than people probably should be allowed to.
What You CAN’T Do at Wal-Mart
Steal (even though it’s done).
Use their Information Systems to promote, advertise and administer your own personal business.
You can’t set up a bin in the middle of the store and start selling and advertising your product and business.
You can’t go in the middle of their store, get on a box, and start urinating and defacating on the merchandise and the floor.
You can’t yell through their audio system about what sluts, fags and whores all their employees are…or tell shoppers that you can get better quality and cheaper products at Target.
You get the point.
When one looks at a business like Wal-Mart…which has a “physical” presence and facilities that we can readily touch and feel…it isn’t hard to understand why the above “freedoms” would not be allowed.
However…for some strange reason, people will look at a Web Based Business (like The Nation) and feel as though their “freedoms” are restricted if not allowed to do the very things that any reasonably thinking person would deem reprehensible in a “physical” business like Wal-Mart ( OR within the confines of their home).
It’s not a question of “Freedom of Speech” folks…its a question of civility, respect and common sense… and the right that a person or persons have to operate their business freely, without undue harrassment and slander, within the confines of their defined business plan.