There are many email lists devoted to amateur radio topics, in particular on Yahoo Groups. These email forums are a great way to learn and exchange information. Usually these lists are created to hit a particular topic of interest. Over time, people stray off into other areas and start posting topics that are not appropriate for the forum. Eventually, the moderator steps in and shuts down the off-topic conversation.
What can happen next is the off-topic posters claim their right of “freedom of speech” is being violated. “This is America, and we have freedom of speech.” (Kind of an odd statement since the internet is worldwide, not just a US concern, but I’ll set that aside.) This just happened a few days ago on an email list I use.
It has become all too common to hear people claiming “rights” that don’t really exist. US citizens might want to read the US Constitution once in a while, so they know what it actually says about freedom of speech:
First Amendment: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
The US Constitution basically says that Congress cannot establish laws that abridge (limit) the freedom of speech. The amendment focuses on what the government is allowed to do to restrict the citizens. It does not mean that a citizen has the right to have their speech published in the local newspaper, sent through an email list, or posted on another person’s web site, etc. Newspapers, web site owners and moderators of email lists make decisions every day on what type of “speech” they are going to allow in their communication forum.
73, Bob K0NR