Why is Stanley Fish convinced that ‘freedom of speech’ is not a universal principle? Is he right? Table of contentsIntroduction. .... ... 1Chapter OneNo such thing as freedom of speech explained. ..2Chapter TwoWords hurt so boundaries necessary in society. ..4Chapter threeMisconstruing the First Amendment. .... 7Chapter fourFree speech not as desirable as many suppose. ..9Chapter 5Speak up but recognize the consequences. ... 14Conclusion. .... ... 20Bibliography. .... ... 22IntroductionFor those of us living in the 21st century the concept of freedom of speech is taken for granted. This is not to say that all people in all countries enjoy this freedom but those in countries where there is no freedom of speech often lament their conditions, dreaming of the day when they will be free to express themselves as their counterparts in some of the countries that recognize this fundamental “right. ” When Stanley Fish, therefore, says that “freedom of speech” is not a universal principle, it raises the hackles of those who love freedom of speech.
They wonder why such a respected individual will make such a politically incorrect comment and castigate him for setting the movement towards freedom of speech back. But such individuals would simply not have paid good attention to what Stanley Fish is saying.
Although freedom of speech is an ideal towards which many people and societies strive it is true, as Stanley Fish, says, that it is not universal and that it is a notion that we are trying to make universal. Chapter OneNo such thing as freedom of speech explainedIn an interview, Stanley Fish clarified his remarks for those who have misconstrued it to mean that he does not like freedom of speech. As he explains, many people who take on the issue of freedom of speech take as their starting point that it is normal for people to talk, just for the sake of expressing themselves.
This stands to reason that people should be able to make whatever utterances they deem fit and share their opinions, as might be the case in a seminar. The freedom to express oneself in a seminar and to listen to the opinions of others, however, is far from being the norm. It is a special creative forum that serves mostly the academic community.
In most other areas of human social endeavour, this is not normal. According to Stanley Fish, therefore, the seminar type of free expression is not the norm but a deviation from the norm. The seminar type of free speech does not usually require speakers to be concerned about the consequences of what they have to say. It is a place for the free exchange of ideas in a way that is not true in real life, or throughout history. As Fish explains, “I believe the situation of constraint is the normative one and that the distinctions which are to be made are between differing situations of constraint; rather than a distinction between constraint on the one hand and a condition of no constraint on the other.
Another way to put this is to say that, except in a similar-like situation, when one speaks to another person, it is usually for an instrumental purpose: you are trying to get someone to do something, you are trying to urge an idea and, down the road, a course of action. These are the reasons for which speech exists and it is in that sense that I say there is no such thing as “free speech”, that is, speech that has as its rationale nothing more than its own production. ”.