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Alexander Meiklejohn, Blog Comment Policies, and Free Speech

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6 Responses

  1. Howard Wasserman says:

    I once described this as the difference between free expression and the First Amendment–the former referring to broad theoretical ideas about expression and its functions and values, the latter about the narrower conception put into practice by the First Amendment. Of course, free expression (more so than the First Amendment) runs into more direct conflicts between competing speakers.

  2. Yes, what Howard Wasserman said. I believe the problem of how to have a constructive discussion is very important, but it’s also incredibility difficult. But call it something else – “Constructive Discussion Theory”, or some such. Don’t ever talk about “First Amendment”. That thoroughly inflames a certain type of knee-jerker, who absolutely, must, must, then write a message about how the First Amendent is only state action, etc. etc. Which then means someone tends to write in reply something like the Meiklejohn quote you give above (which I happen to think is quite wrong about the specifics of the First Amendment), and the thread explodes – sort of lesson 1 in the problem.

    Please note there are two very well-known poles of this problem:

    1) A completely open discussion is vulnerable to deliberate disruption

    2) But the owning poster tends to be a very bad judge of the difference between deliberate disruption and harsh but correct criticism

    Which also leads to:

    Appeals to a multitude of possible discussions is often a cop-out to avoid engaging the problem.

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