Sunday, August 18, 2013

John Stuart Mill on Freedom Of Thought And Discussion

An excerpt from Mill's argument on behalf of free thought and speech is presented in this post by a Michigan economist.  Most people would accept the arguments made by Mill.  We place a high value on freedom of speech.  Consequently, what Mill has to say about the freedom of speech is not relevant in most developed countries.  The media provides a megaphone to the speech of of those that it selects as relevant.  The real issue is on the distribution of the megaphones.  The media likes nothing better than to frame the issues that are worthy of debate.  Most of the discussions that are provided a platform by the media typically provide opportunities for politicians, or opinion leaders, to present carefully selected talking points.  They frequently know little about the issues under discussion beyond the talking points.  At least they seldom deviate from the talking points.   The audience, of course, loves to see "conservatives" do battle with "liberals".  It is important to give equal time to both sets of talking points, and the more heated the debate the better it is for business.  I doubt that this is what Mill intended when he wrote about the freedom of speech.

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