Is there such a thing as too much free speech?

Is there such a thing as too much free speech?

Is there such a thing as too much free speech? The Editors at n+1 think so. They posted an editorial this week lamenting the overabundance of speaking that has swept over our nation like a plague:

A strange mania governs the people of our great nation, a mania that these days results in many individual and collective miseries. This is the love of opinion, of free speech—a furious mania for free, spoken opinion. It exhausts us.

The n+1 Editors feel besieged. And we can all sympathize with their predicament. Too many people are writing blogs; too many voices are tweeting; too many friends are pontificating about something on Facebook. And then there are the trolls. It’s hard not to sympathize with our friends at n+1. Why do we have to listen to all of these folks? Shouldn’t all these folks just stop and read n+1 instead?

Of course it is richly hypocritical for the editors of an opinion journal to complain of an overabundance of opinions. And n+1 acknowledges and even trumpets its hypocrisy:

We are aware that to say [that others should stop expressing their opinions] (freely! our opinion!) makes us hypocrites. We are also aware that America’s hatred of hypocrisy is one of few passions to rival its love of free speech—as if the ideal citizen must see something, say something, and it must be the same thing, all the time. But we’ll be hypocrites because we’re tired, and we want eventually to stop talking.

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