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Is freedom of speech in decline?

I’m thinking about all the trouble you can get into in this country for saying the wrong words. If words are “hurtful,” hateful, politically incorrect, stupid, ill-chosen, even misinterpreted, they live forever on the Internet and follow you whenever anyone bothers to Google you. The wrong words can cost you your job, stir up demonstrators, angry bloggers. And I won’t even get into saying the wrong words at an airport. Those are authoritarian hubs.

But while we have to watch our words, we’re much freer to express who we are. We can be openly gay. All kinds of people who aren’t white males can aspire to power, etc etc. So my question is this: Do we police our words to protect freedoms in a diverse society? Does that make sense? Another question: If we have to circumscribe our language, does it limit communication and slow the flow of ideas and innovation? Or am I just being paranoid?

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