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Who Can Restrict Free Speech?


Published: May 1, 2017

Although some groups are allowed to restrict speech, others are not. What sets them apart is if there are other options available to individuals. In general, the government is not allowed to restrict speech because it does not have any competitors and thus could stamp out all opposing views. Private groups on the other hand have competitors, which ensures a diversity of views and options to individuals.

Discussion Questions

  1. Why would private groups want to restrict speech, membership, or other activities on its property?
  2. Are there any private organizations that have lost customers due to their speech codes?
  3. If a private group is a monopoly and doesn’t have any competition, are they allowed to restrict speech?
View Transcript

Freedom of Speech allows us to share our opinions, including those that are offensive to others, as long as we avoid force, fraud, or defamation.

So why is it that some groups are allowed to restrict speech and others are not?

We don’t allow the government to restrict speech because it doesn’t have any competitors. It could stamp out all disagreement, leaving no room for opposing views.

In general though, private groups are allowed to restrict speech, membership, and other activities on their own property because there are many other options available to people.

Thus, universities can set whatever speech codes they like, because students are always free to go elsewhere if they don’t like the restrictions.

When people aren’t prevented from saying what they want to say, it allows for every view to be heard, without compelling anyone to host or pay for speech they disagree with.

So, monopolies like the government are not allowed to pick who speaks and who doesn’t, but organizations that face competition are free to do so.