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Moore Censorship?

Shocking! Outrageous!

Disney has decided that its Miramax unit will not distribute Michael Moore's new film "Fahrenheit 9/11". In a message on his website, Moore describes this decision as censorship:

I would have hoped by now that I would be able to put my work out to the public without having to experience the profound censorship obstacles I often seem to encounter.

Moore does not understand censorship. But I don't mean to single him out on this, it's very widely misunderstood.

From the perspective of individual rights in general, and the right of free speech in particular, no voluntary action is censorship. Censorship is when you are forcibly prevented from expressing your views, either by government or by criminals.

It is not censorship to decline to distribute ideas you oppose. It is not censorship even to actively protest those ideas and to try to discredit them. It only becomes censorship when you use force to stifle those ideas.

The right to free speech means does not include an entitlement to have your ideas distributed at the expense of others. It does not provide for an unearned popularity. You must earn the voluntary consent of those who you would like to spread your message.

If Moore and Disney cannot reach an agreement, that is not censorship. There is no force involved. Moore is free to take his work to other distributors or even to distribute it himself. Censorship and unpopularity are not interchangeable.

Tiny Island