Suppose you could push a button and, if you did, any section of the political left or right would autonomously make the decision not to speak in public for the next thirty years. Would you push the button?
I have asked students and members of my faculty this question for many years. Most say that they would not push the button. Some are moderates and believe the polity benefits from the contributions of the left and right. Others might be on the left or right, but believe the marketplace is best served by a vigorous debate. Others think to press the button is to interfere with autonomy despite the proviso that the left or right would make an autonomous decision. Others do not want to play God. Others just find the question creepy.
If you do push the button, does it mean that you do not believe in freedom of speech? It would not entail that you think that the polity never benefits from contributions of the left or right, or that the marketplace is never served by vigorous debate from both ends of the spectrum. It would mean that you think that the positive benefits of that debate are outweighed by the harm that is occasioned by the presence of options in political life that are better off foreclosed. You could be a Kantian and push the button though most would not. For those of us who would push the button, but are committed to freedom of speech for the left and right in modern life, it could be that our commitment owes more to Thomas Hobbes than we ordinarily have thought.