No such thing as free speech

Published in The New Zealand Herald 30 April 2018

There’s no such thing as free speech, and it’s a good thing too.

There is nothing original about that sentence. It was the title of an essay by an American legal scholar named Stanley Fish. In it he argued that speech cannot be free because it is never free of consequences and responsibilities.

He is right. For several decades, as a journalist and editor on this newspaper and later as an academic, I have championed free expression. At no stage, however, was I under any illusion that speech was entirely free of consequence and responsibility. I knew that it had limits. Continue reading “No such thing as free speech”