Wednesday, September 26, 2012

There's a Cost to Free Speech

I'm a regular at AVC.com for a number of reasons. Three of them were on display today with Fred's post about free speech:

  • The post itself is highly relevant and compelling
  • Fred has a policy of allowing any comment to stand, even when it's hateful stuff toward him, which is in great contrast to some bloggers like Dave Winer, who once censored me because he didn't like the use of the word "bullshit". 
  • The conversation is pretty intense today with people from around the world weighing in on everything from free speech to the US history of supporting dictators and overthrowing democracies (Chile, for instance). 
But free speech can be costly to those who exercise it. Which led to my comments, which I'll share here, with a few minoir edits.

Some free speech comes with a cost.
I've been personally effected by expressing my beliefs--opportunities denied and doors closed, reprisals delivered subtly and not so subtly; and in several cases, been slandered (on Facebook no less, so libel, I guess). Their loss, but mine too.
Headhunters looking for a visionary, optimistic leader land here and don't like something they read, and I never get the interview, for instance. It's not safe to have an opinion in the business world, unless your ass is already covered. 
I never embraced that, though, because I've always started companies, but these days I'm likely to join one and lead it. The gatekeepers for some of the compelling opportunities are less likely to take a risk with someone who has an opinion. 
Free speech is a wonderful thing, but there are reasons why people don't put themselves out there, because there are no laws against discriminating against someone because of what they say in many cases.
And that's part of freedom too--to be able to choose not to do business with someone because you don't like what they've expressed, regardless of the relevance to the business itself.
I'll share this from the first episode of the Newsroom--it's a great rant, and also reminds me that expressing your opinions and beliefs is not without consequence.
Worth watching --short version
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...
Longer version giving more context
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

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