Youtube Atheists & Free Speech, A Nitpick

Many of the prominent Youtube Atheists are also staunch free speech advocates.  They rail against governments and quasi-government agencies which kowtow to the religious when it comes to “intolerance” in the form of legitimate criticism of religion.  On this I have no issue with them for obvious reasons.

However some of them have taken to proving how much they are for free speech by pointing out that they don’t block people on their channel, they don’t review video responses and don’t remove comments from their channel or video posts.  The implication being that people who do block, review and remove are somehow less committed to the notion of free speech.  It is this idea to which I take exception.

I believe in free speech.  Anyone has the right to say anything they want provided they’re willing to deal with the consequences.  Freedom of speech does not mean a guarantee of acceptance.  No, that is what the religious want and we’ll have none of that.

But I also believe in strong property rights.  Property rights derived from the individual.  IE, I own my body.  I can do with it as I choose.  By extension I own the labor of my body (property) and I can do with it as I choose.  The only exception is that I cannot do with either that which would directly harm another.  Basic libertarian stuff.

So with those two concepts in mind (and presuming we’re all atheists here, theists, play along) imagine someone in your house proselytizing to you.  Who’s rights take precedence?  His right to free speech or your right to do with as you wish with your property?  I would argue that his right to speak in that venue is limited by your indulgence.  At 3pm you might find it amusing to waste his time.  At 3am when you’re trying to sleep I’m willing to wager you’ll either politely ask him to leave or remove him by force (either your own or police, pick one).

Have you infringed on his right to free speech?  No!  He is free to speak on the corner of the street at 3am.  He’s free to speak in a church at 3am.  Or a pub (presuming you’re not in a hick state with blue laws) at 3am.  He has plenty of venues from which to choose, you have only restricted one venue, a venue over which you have rightful control.

Now, simply replace “house” with “youtube channel” and speech with video responses or comments.  Has anything changed?  No.  It is your channel.  You have spent the time to build it up, to gain subscribers.  It is your labor, your property, and those who interact with you in that venue do so by your indulgence.  If you block them, decline their video or comment responses that you have infringed on their freedom of speech?  No!  You have prevented them from one venue.  But they can post to other videos, other channels or even start their own.

Now, let me clarify.  I think it is a dick move to block people or remove comments which are valid and legitimately address the topic of the video or the channel.  I still defend the right of those people to do so.  Because without that right they would not have the ability to meaningfully removed spurious comments, spam, abusive comments and flat out trolls.


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