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Please sign up for an account and contribute to the Explain XKCD wiki!  We need explanations for comics, characters, themes, memes and everything in between.  If it is referenced in an [http://www.xkcd.com XKCD] web comic, it should be in here.
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Revision as of 21:16, 24 March 2013

Welcome to the explain xkcd wiki!

We have collaboratively explained Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character ",". xkcd comics, and only Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character ",". (Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character ",".%) remain. Add yours while there's a chance!

Latest comic

Go to this comic explanation

Free Speech
I can't remember where I heard this, but someone once said that defending a position by citing free speech is sort of the ultimate concession; you're saying that the most compelling thing you can say for your position is that it's not literally illegal to express.
Title text: I can't remember where I heard this, but someone once said that defending a position by citing free speech is sort of the ultimate concession; you're saying that the most compelling thing you can say for your position is that it's not literally illegal to express.

Explanation

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution provides for freedom of speech for United States citizens, saying that "Congress shall make no law [...] abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press". This concerns only government activities, as the Constitution is a legal document that defines the structure and powers of the government. However, many times, both on the Internet and off, people with unpopular (or arguably just plain stupid) opinions will complain that their freedom of speech is being restricted when others make it clear that they don't want to hear those opinions.

An example of this is the incident involving the TV program Duck Dynasty, in which television network A+E Networks suspended the host after he made homophobic remarks, causing some to comment that his rights had been infringed upon. Similarly, controversy erupted when Brendan Eich was forced to resign as CEO of Mozilla because it was revealed he had donated money to anti-gay marriage efforts in California. In actuality, the First Amendment was never meant to provide immunity from any and all consequences.

Cueball is addressing anyone who has used this argument. As the comic says, just because you're legally allowed to say something doesn't mean that everyone is legally required to listen. It also does not mean that a commercial or social entity — such as a TV network, a website, or its community — is legally required to support you in spreading your message, even if it had supported you in the past. If someone says something stupid or offensive, he or she should be ready to accept the consequences. One of the most famous examples of this is Schenck v. United States, where the expression "shouting 'fire' in a crowded theater" gave rise: just because a person can say anything they want, doesn't mean that they are protected from everything, even if they are lying.

The title text points out the irony of anyone appealing to free speech as a defense for their argument or opinion. If the only thing that someone can say in support of an argument is effectively that it is not illegal, then they are severely undermining it by essentially admitting that they don't have any better defense for it.

Transcript

Cueball: Public Service Announcement: The Right to Free Speech means the government can't arrest you for what you say.
Cueball: It doesn't mean that anyone else has to listen to your bullshit, or host you while you share it.
Cueball: The 1st amendment doesn't shield you from criticism or consequences.
Cueball: If you're yelled at, boycotted, have your show canceled, or get banned from an Internet community, your free speech rights aren't being violated.
Cueball: It's just that the people listening think you're an asshole,
[A picture of an open door is displayed.]
Cueball: And they're showing you the door.

Is this out of date? Clicking here will fix that.

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Last 7 days (Top 10)

Lots of people contribute to make this wiki a success. Many of the recent contributors, listed above, have just joined. You can do it too! Create your account here.

You can read a brief introduction about this wiki at explain xkcd. Feel free to sign up for an account and contribute to the wiki! We need explanations for comics, characters, themes, memes and everything in between. If it is referenced in an xkcd web comic, it should be here.

  • List of all comics contains a complete table of all xkcd comics so far and the corresponding explanations. The red links (like this) are missing explanations. Feel free to help out by creating them! Here's how.

Rules

Don't be a jerk. There are a lot of comics that don't have set in stone explanations; feel free to put multiple interpretations in the wiki page for each comic.

If you want to talk about a specific comic, use its discussion page.

Please only submit material directly related to —and helping everyone better understand— xkcd... and of course only submit material that can legally be posted (and freely edited.) Off-topic or other inappropriate content is subject to removal or modification at admin discretion, and users who repeatedly post such content will be blocked.

If you need assistance from an admin, feel free to leave a message on their personal discussion page. The list of admins is here.

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