How many of you understand free speech? I think it's time we found out.
Starting simply, a website like N4G can censor, delete, or remove whatever they want and there's no 'freedom of speech' violation because it's their server. Almost everyone understands this but occasionally I see people here, or on other sites, decrying administrators for violating 'freedom of speech'.
But now let's look at some real free speech issues.
A popular example would be Wikileaks and the subsequent attacks against any company who tried to disassociate themselves from Wikileaks.
Those companies were exercising free speech and anyone who attacked them was actually going against the concept of free speech. Freedom of speech includes freedom of association and no company is obligated to do business with another. There is a clear cut case of grossly misunderstanding free speech.
It's very simple: If you stop doing business with a company then that's your right and companies have the same right not to business with each other for any reason or no reason at all. I once worked for a company that provided web hosting to thousands of people and unknown to us a Neo Nazi group set up an account with us. We were quickly informed of this by various groups and we choose, as a company, not to associate with the Neo Nazi.
You should now realize that the company I worked for, the companies that refused to do business with Wikileaks, and the basic ability of N4G to regulate itself are all the same thing: Freedom of speech and freedom of association.
A less obvious example is Sony's pursuit of Geohotz, where people actively felt that Sony themselves were doing harm to freedom of speech or freedom of expression. Once again however you have to realize what is actually happening when somebody decides to engage in cyber attacks against Sony in 'defense' of free speech.
What if I don't have a problem with Sony's pursuit of Geohotz? What have you just done if you prevent me from doing business with Sony? You have suppressed my freedom of speech and freedom of association. You've essentially said to me and everyone else that our freedoms do no not matter and once again an effort to defend 'freedom of speech' is having precisely the opposite effect.
Using a physical world example let's say that you don't like a particular fast food chain so you get a large number of people to block the entrances so nobody can get in. Nobody would see this as noble and nobody would defend this kind of behavior, but somehow making it difficult or impossible to access a business on the internet can be seen, by some, as not only acceptable but completely justified.
No amount of bad behavior on the part of a company, real or perceived, gives you the right to stop anyone but yourself from doing business with them. You can of course tell others of this bad behavior by whatever means suits you and perhaps they will agree with you but you cannot, under any circumstance, take it upon yourself to stop others from doing business with a company no matter how much you might hate that company.