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Onkar Ghate on Yaron Brook Show

Ghate Disentangles Confusions over Free Speech, Social Media

Only governments can censor, but the shifting forms of government threat can make it hard to know exactly what’s happening.

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“I think of the First Amendment as defending crucial aspects of intellectual freedom,” said ARI’s Onkar Ghate during a recent appearance on The Yaron Brook Show. “But it’s the freedom for an individual to be able to think for himself, to talk to whoever he wants, debate, listen . . . . He’s in charge.” Starting from a basic understanding of the individual rights at stake, Ghate explained how to analyze current controversies over social media activities such as de-platforming.

During the wide-ranging, two-hour interview, Ghate discussed such topics as:

  • Whether social media platforms can engage in censorship;
  • Why not every violation of free speech rights is censorship;
  • What’s involved in censorship by proxy;
  • Whether free speech is an individual right or a social privilege;
  • John Stuart Mill’s utilitarian defense of free speech, and its connection to Christianity;
  • The phenomenon of self-censorship;
  • The difference between de-platforming and censorship;
  • Section 230 and why government should think carefully about how to determine liability for posted content;
  • The laxity of laws against copyright infringement and physical intimidation on the internet;
  • The difference between the rational and irrational forms of ostracism lumped together as “cancel culture.”

A general question-and-answer session on Objectivism follows the main presentation.

This interview was livestreamed on February 4, 2021. Watch the whole thing here or use the player below:


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Tom Bowden

Tom Bowden, JD and former civil litigator, is a research fellow and publishing manager at the Ayn Rand Institute. He is also a coeditor of Illuminating Ayn Rand (2022) and a contributing editor of New Ideal.

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