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== Rules ==
 
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If you want to talk about a specific comic, use its discussion page.
 
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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.
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Revision as of 01:59, 30 October 2013

Welcome to the explain xkcd wiki!
We have an explanation for all 1357 xkcd comics, and only 0 (0%) are incomplete. Help us finish them!

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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.

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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 table of most recent xkcd comics and links to the rest, and the corresponding explanations. There are incomplete explanations listed here. Feel free to help out by expanding them!
  • If you see that a new comic hasn't been explained yet, you can create it: Here's how.
  • We sell advertising space to pay for our server costs. To learn more, go here.

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.

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