Free speech includes the right to set editorial policy

Freedom of speech and freedom of the press are about having the right to choose what you say. Part of this means being able to say what you want to say; an equally important part of free speech means the right to refrain from saying things you *don’t* want to say.

And, in a broader sense, this includes editorial policy. If you publish a magazine, you make choices about which articles to include and which articles to reject. That’s an essential part of what a magazine is. A magazine has a certain topic and point of view, expressed as much in what it does not publish as what it does.

For example:

  • Socialist journals do not publish articles in defense of capitalism
  • Medical journals do not publish articles that have not passed peer review
  • Jewish community newsletters do not publish arguments for conversion to Christianity

The fact that these types of publications only publish things that support their mission and policy is not a violation of free speech; it is an *expression* of free speech.

This is as true on the internet as it is in print media.

Deciding what to put on your website, and what *not* to put on your website, is part of how you exercise your free speech. That includes things like:

  • Posting about things you want to post about
  • Not posting about things you don’t want to post about
  • Responding to responses to your writing that you want to engage with
  • Not engaging with responses you prefer not to respond to
  • Making decision about whether you want to have comments, and if so, which kind of comments to allow

No matter what choices you make about these things on the internet, someone will accuse you of censorship and insist that their right to free speech means that you have an obligation to publish their opinions. It doesn’t. Their right to freedom of speech is about what *they* say; it does not give them the right to make *you* say anything, or to publish them, or to pay attention to them.

Free speech means you have the right to say what you want to say, and to refrain from saying things that you do not want to say.