4 May 2017
What if we had free speech, but only what we could afford to buy on a government free-speech exchange. What if freedom of speech was the same as health care…you can talk, but only about what you can afford. There could be several categories of free speech, starting at the top with a ‘concierge’ policy (Maximum Allowable Free Speech). It would allow virtually unfettered free speech. Or another policy level, allowing reasonably free speech and renewable as long as you have no citations for exceeding your policy limits. Or at the lowest rung, a Buttoned Lip policy, allowing you to answer questions, but not to initiate conversation, not even to complain about milk bought fresh, but sour when opened at home.
Of course, like health care, we’d be able to fashion your own free speech policy by opting for situational permits. So within reasonable limits we could speak freely as long as we bought the required permits. But without buying these situational permits from the government free-speech exchanges, we would lose the right to complain, to protest or even to praise that which we have no permit to talk about.
And what a money-maker and job creator it would be…a new department, perhaps the EFE (Enhanced Freedoms Enforcement) would issue and police the government free-speech policies…the free-speech police, so to speak.
To facilitate enforcement for the EFE, everyone would have to wear a pin, identifying his or her ‘free speech’ policies and indicating the speech in which they can indulge. The Golden Megaphone lapel pin would signify a ‘concierge’ policy…no restrictions, but at a price only the top tenth of one percent could afford. The Open-Mouth with a Bar of Soap pin would signify a less expensive policy allowing most speech, but with no swearing, no double entendres and no mention of California. The Red Circle pin with Pursed Lips and a red line across it shows that one could speak, but only if spoken to.
The Situational permits would also require a pin, too, showing on what subjects your free-speech tongue could wag: a Tattooed-Arm pin, allowing everyone to be a general manager and wax about sports; a Crossed-Crutches pin, allowing talk of your medical conditions, both real and hypochondriac; the Wings-on-a-Hamburger pin, allowing talk of fast food, as long as you go easy on talk of salt, fat or mega-sized sugared sodas; the Flooded-Miami pin would allow talk of climate change, but with restraint about wet feet downtown at high tide; the Cannabis pin, allowing a wink, but no talk…a hybrid of free speech.
Of course, ‘free speech’ would be a misnomer and monetizing it might seem drastic, but we desperately need to tamp down on folks bent on talking off the top of their heads or the seat of their pants…wink, wink.