Robert Post Speaks at ASU
Renowned First Amendment scholar and Yale Law professor Robert Post is giving a speech at ASU this evening, “The unfortunate Consequences of a Misguided Free Speech Principle.” Professor Post argues that we have misdiagnosed America’s social malady as a free speech problem. In order to ameliorate America’s public discourse, Post contends, we must first restore our politics to a healthy condition.
Does America have a free speech problem?
“Everybody seems to think so. Everybody thinks that we are not talking enough and you get people on the right and people on the left saying we need to talk to each other more,” said Post. “We shouldn’t be afraid of being canceled, we shouldn’t be afraid of being bullied and the recipe for our political problems is more speech.”
But, Post disagrees with the latter. Although he believes the statement above is true, he emphasizes it is a misdiagnosis of the political problem.
“We have to go deeper than saying it’s a free speech problem. We need to sat why we are feeling inhibited. And if we analyze that problem, we’ll see that there’s something much deeper at stake than simply free speech,” said Post.
Mistaking a symptom for a cause?
People blame that the reason people are not speaking to themselves has to do with the idea that our politics are broken down. Why are our politics broken down?
To elaborate on that question, Post says, “What’s the prerequisite for having healthy politics at all? Politics is a way of solving our differences. We don’t need politics if we all agree, we have politics because we disagree.”
“I think our problem that we are diagnosing as a free speech problem is better understood by the fact that we have seized to care about what each other thinks. We’ve stopped talking to each other and the preconditions for a conversation have diminished,” said Post.