The chilling of speech has been doubly unconstitutional because it affects the freedom to read opposing views. The First Amendment protects not only the right to express views but also the right to hear what others have to say. Although often presented as a distinct right, the right to hear can be considered an essential element of the right to speak.
People can’t develop their views with any sophistication unless they can consider opinions that enlarge, refine, moderate or challenge their own. So, when government demands the suppression of some speech and chills even more, it reduces the diversity, value and moderation of opinion—and thereby diminishes the opportunity for every individual to develop and express his own considered views. Censorship inhibits the output of critical voices, which lessens Americans’ intellectual input, which in turn limits their intellectual output. Reading and speaking are inextricably linked in conversation.
The chilling of one insightful opinion from a scientist or physician can profoundly alter scientific and medical debate. So can the suppression of one patient’s report of an adverse vaccine event. Therefore, when vast numbers of Americans are chilled in their scientific and medical speech, it dangerously injures all of us, who suffer a diminished opportunity to learn and to reconsider and refine our own views.
Professor Philip Hamburger is a professor at Columbia and is the CEO of the New Civil Liberties Alliance. His op-ed is worth a read.