My father has a favourite saying: ‘I may not agree with what you have to say but I will defend, to the death, your right to say it.’. He’s been saying it a lot recently as we have been disagreeing on certain political issues.

I tend to work on the theory that when a political figure has proved themselves to espouse immoral and questionable perspectives, it is important to take a second look at all their other perspectives. By immoral, I don’t mean cheating on their spouse or anything which is a matter of personal morality and physical and emotional control, I mean fundamentally unpleasant perspectives with potentially far reaching consequences if they are able to gain in power. It throws their opinions, their political ones at least, into question and forces me to ask whether the ‘facts’ they use to support their opinions are in any way accurate. My father disagrees. My closing of my ears to all opinions when I’ve deemed someone of dubious character is, in his mind, tantamount to censure. Though I would certainly argue that my refusal to listen to someone doesn’t in any way prevent them from talking, I’ve learned this frequently in discussion with that very same father.

It seems to me that this is a matter for scientists and those who study advanced physics. ‘If someone speaks and only they are listening, can they be truly said to have spoken at all?’. In order for someone to be able to truly exercise their right to free speech, do they need to have an audience? Is limiting the audience that is exposed their speech a curtailment of that right? Answers on a postcard, or indeed, in the comments.

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