ROTHENBURGER – We need less freedom of expression, not more


Bad things happen when we become too free with our speech. We stop taking responsibility for our own words. We forget our humanity. We become feckless trolls, bullies and conspiracy theorists

SOMETIMES WE should stop talking — just because we have freedom of speech doesn’t mean we have to use it.

We should try shutting up just for a day because all this free expression is killing us. It’s increasing racism, sexism, intolerance, and the threat and reality of war.

Before the dawn of the new technology — and I hate to keep blaming new technology, but we’re caught in the sandwich of its good effects and its bad ones, and I’m afraid the bad ones are coming out on top — we kept our darker instincts more or less concealed.

They simmered under the surface instead of bubbling out into the open.


Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops, former school board chair, former editor of The Kamloops Daily News, and a current director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He was awarded the Jack Webster Foundation’s lifetime achievement award in 2011. His editorials are published Monday through Thursdays, and Saturdays on CFJC Today, CFJC Midday and CFJC Evening News. Contact him at

About Mel Rothenburger (6313 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

4 Comments on ROTHENBURGER – We need less freedom of expression, not more

  1. Freedom of speech is absolutely necessary. However, we can’t confuse “freedom of speech” with “I’m entitled to my opinion and it’s just as valid as every other opinion.”

    No. Because some simply aren’t valid at all. Ignorance is not just as good as scientific knowledge. Ignorance can’t somehow overshadow or deny reality. Ignorance can’t be allowed to discredit experience and expertise.

    It isn’t a problem with Freedom of Speech… it’s a problem with it being far too easy to contribute nothing useful to the discussion. Sometimes people are just completely wrong and Freedom of Speech can’t be allowed to make them ‘right’.

    • Brock, who is wise enough or has the right to judge who is completely wrong? It may seem that some are completely wrong, but to those people what the other is saying is the same. Here is hoping that everyone has the intelligence to maybe shake their heads and take an opposing opinion with a grain of salt. It may take a whole bunch of comments that contribute nothing, but somewhere in the discussion one can find comments worth listening to or reading. Freedom of Speech is just that. As long as it does not escalate to threats of harm or inciting harmful actions, a society where like thinking is the only expression allowed would make us faceless and brainwashed robots.

  2. This op-piece is going to get someone upset at the news-for-hire-flyer-carrier outlet…

    • “Who is wise enough?” Good question. I don’t have an answer. But note that I do support freedom of speech, so it’s not really about someone censoring opinions. But we need to find a way to help people recognize what they don’t know and encourage them to either shut up about it, or better yet, educate themselves on the subject before commenting. It’s not about ‘like thinking’… in fact, just the opposite. It’s about being able to back up your claims instead of just spewing rhetoric. Actually debate an issue rather than simply spout nonsense without being challenged.

      Climate deniers…: “I don’t believe it, therefore it isn’t happening.” Not an acceptable argument, but too often it’s given equal time. If you can’t substantiate your position with something resembling a sound argument, you shouldn’t be getting any time, let alone equal time.

      Or sexist trolls…: “She deserves what she got because of how she was dressed”. That one’s tougher, because it’s tough to back up or refute morals with fact… but our society takes a dim view of such a comment anyway. Does accepting society’s morals make us faceless and brainwashed robots? Or should we have to give that comment equal consideration? Again. And again. And again…?

      I don’t think it’s about restricting meaningful debate, but rather, discouraging senseless and unsubstantiated ‘fake news’ opinions. Perhaps preventing the problem that CNN actually saw fit to build an advertisement around…

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