President Barack Obama Thinks We Have Too Much Free Speech, Proposes Safe Spaces From Scary Ideas


U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a campaign event in support of U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania,U.S., September 13, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

A provocative headline?

Sure. But I’m not sure how else to interpret these comments made by President Obama recently at a conference in Pittsburgh:

“We are going to have to rebuild within this wild-wild-west-of-information flow some sort of curating function that people agree to,” Obama said at an innovation conference in Pittsburgh.

“There has to be, I think, some sort of way in which we can sort through information that passes some basic truthiness tests and those that we have to discard, because they just don’t have any basis in anything that’s actually happening in the world,” Obama added.

President Obama stopped short of calling for censorship, but just barely short of it. “The answer is obviously not censorship, but it’s creating places where people can say ‘this is reliable’ and I’m still able to argue safely about facts and what we should do about it.”

Argue safely about the facts? So, safe spaces then? Something akin to what college campuses are creating for perpetually offended millennials who want to hide from scary ideas?

[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#ffffff” txt_color=”#000000″]And for you liberals out there inclined to defend the President? Imagine what the policies he’s proposing might look like under a Trump administration.[/mks_pullquote]

Hey, I get why President Obama is frustrated. The man spent most of his time in office fighting off birthers (one of them who is currently the Republican candidate for President) who insisted that he was born in Africa and/or a secret Muslim.

I, too, have a waning level of patience for friends and relatives who are addicted to cable news channels of various ideological flavors and spend little time subjecting that content to critical thinking.

But so what? Free speech means free speech, and we don’t need some government-sanctioned authority to starting testing or filtering that speech for us.

Will millions and millions of people be misinformed? Will they choose to believe in conspiracy theories and other nonsense? Sure. But I’d rather have each citizen in charge of deciding for themselves what is and isn’t true than some government committee. Or gigantic corproate internet gatekeeper, for that matter.

I’m looking at you, Facebook and Google.

And for you liberals out there inclined to defend the President, imagine what the policies he’s proposing might look like under a Trump administration.