Since nobody asked, I’ve never used reddit (but do spend
a lot of too much time at Metafilter). The whole “outing” of the “internet’s biggest troll” has been fascinating to follow. Again, since nobody asked, I’m perfectly fine with the guy not only being outed but also losing his job. Freedom of speech is not freedom from the consequences of your speech, and I’m not sure why so many people have a difficult time grokking this.
That said, this piece by Lindsay Beyerstein is excellent:
“In practice, our legal freedom to speak our minds is constrained by our accountability to the people around us. They know who we are, they know where we live, they will kick us under the table when we get out of line. In real life, we only have one body connected to one name, and we’ve got to weigh the satisfaction of speaking our minds against the long term effects on our reputations and relationships.
This is a pretty elegant system, albeit an imperfect one. It puts the ‘society’ in ‘free society.’ In real life, we have the legal right to say pretty much whatever we want, but we are enmeshed in a network of social checks and balances that keep us accountable for our speech. Nobody can force us to shut up, but lots of people can make their displeasure known to us. It’s a good balance that allows people to share ideas freely without rending the fabric of the community.”