Conversations For Transformation:
Essays Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard
Conversations For Transformation
Essays By Laurence Platt
Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard
Free Speech Twice Distinguished
Coffee Roasting Company, Napa, California, USA
December 22, 2019
Free Speech Twice Distinguished,
is the companion piece to
A Way With Words.
In these United States, we have the right to free speech. It's
protected by the first amendment to our constitution. In this realm,
"free" speech is a figurative term. Not all speech is protected by the
amendment. You don't, for example, have the right to yell "Fire!" in a
crowded theatre. Laws / legal precedents block obscenity, fraud,
defamation, incitement, threats, criminal conduct, and hate speech -
none of which, no matter its content or your
of it, is protected by the first amendment.
When we distinguish free speech this way, we're discussing that which
we're free to talk about. It's free speech which occurs in the
domain, a domain which houses that which we know (or
to know) about. I'd like to consider there's another lesser deployed
distinction "free speech". This free speech is deployed in a different
domain, the ontological domain, the domain which houses
who we be (yes I do mean who we "be" here, and not who we
"are" - try it on for size).
In a real sense, who we be is our speaking ie who we are is our spoken
word. And transformation is said to be the harbinger of the recognition
that who we are, is our spoken word ie that who we are is known by our
ie by our speech acts. Let's differentiate between the former "free
speech" as say, the right to disagree with federal policy, and the
latter "free speech" as being free to
being facile with
being free in
being free from holding back, being free from stage fright
(if you will) when speaking in front of groups. The latter free speech
isn't like a right or a legally endowed
It's free speech like being unfettered, free speech like being free
from being shy, free speech like being free from being
(self-)repressed, free speech like being free from being held back - in
a word, free speech like being transformed. And the two types of free
speech distinguished here may or may not overlap (they often do, but
they don't have to).
The personal freedom coming with transformation empowers our mastery of
- indeed it
our recognition that our speaking is who we be. Look up "integrity" in
lexicography. It's defined as
"honoring your word"
- period - nothing more, nothing less. Be careful:
"honoring" your word
is different than
"keeping" your word.
"Keeping your word"
alone is an earlier (now archaic) concept of integrity (but that's a
subject for another conversation on another occasion).
The idea of free speech in the context of being transformed, still
doesn't come with the right to yell "Fire!" in a crowded theatre. Yet
as is often dramatically testified, authentic transformation has such a
profound impact on peoples' outlook, both for the future as well as for
what happened in the past, that it's not unusual for hate speech to
simply disappear in the process of
which, when you're fortunate enough to be present when it occurs, is
and extraordinary beyond belief.
To complete this, the notion of "inalienable human rights"
should be examined. If a surgeon dissected you with a scalpel looking
for your inalienable human rights, she wouldn't be able to find them
in there anywhere. As counterintuitive as it is, there are no such
things as human rights. But there were conversations human beings had,
after which the ideas / ideals comprising human rights, were
declared. Prior to their declaration, there was no such inherent
notion as "inalienable human rights".
We could therefore say any human right (and free speech in particular)
is a function of
Where free speech shows up in the context of being transformed, is in
being facile with
in being generous with the joy of
in being unfettered and unheld-back in expressing who we really are,
indeed in being unfettered and unheld-back with
itself, being free to deploy language to speak who we might be really.
In this realm, "free" speech is also a very literal term.