Freedom of Speech and Forum Rules
Sometimes people get confused about what Freedom of Speech actually means. It does not mean you can say anything you want to at any time in any location.
If you scream outside your neighbor's home at 2am, you can be arrested for violating noise ordinances. If you work at company A and go to company B and tell them company A's secrets, you would be arrested for sharing trade secrets. If you start talking in public about how McDonalds boils rats and serves them in their burgers, you would be arrested for defamation (slander or libel). If you went into a crowded movie theater and started yelling "FIRE!!!" you would be arrested for endangerment.
You do not have any absolute right to state your opinion whenever you want to. If you want to scream your opinion in a public square, you normally need a permit for that public speaking. You would be arrested otherwise. Most locations have laws against profanity - speak words on that not-allowed list and the police will be coming to talk with you. Many court cases have ruled that Freedom of Speech does not mean you can say anything you wish. It only means you can say what is currently allowed in a given location, at an appropriate date and time, at an appropriate volume, if you have taken the proper steps to ensure you are legally able to speak there.
You are not legally protected by saying "It is just my opinion". Lawsuits have proven that, if you say something untrue, you are legally held for fines and legal penalities based on what you have said. You need to be able to prove that what you said is true, and present that proof at the time you are making the statement.
Finally, the First Amendment / Freedom of Speech only applies to government agencies. There is no mandate that private agencies or individuals do anything at all involving the First Amendment.
Freedom of Speech and Private Locations
All of the above examples are in public locations. The laws are even MORE restrictive when you are in a private location. This includes a private person's home, their car, their back yard, and their private web forum. All of these are owned by an individual and are governed by the rules of that individual. This is a critical part of law, that an individual has full rights over what is said in the location they own.
If a person sets up a children's restaurant, and determines that NO swear words at all can be used in that location, even "mild" ones like damn, then that restaurant has the complete right to post those rules and to hold customers to them. If a customer fails to abide by those rules, then the police can be called.
If a condo association has, in their rules, that houses can only be painted blue and pink, then that is legally what is done within that condo association. If you choose to be part of that condo association, then you choose to abide by those rules. If you do not abide by them, then you are doing something illegal, and legal action can be taken against you.
It is nonsensical for a person in that situation to complain, "but I can paint my house blue in Orlando, Florida, so I should be able to do it here too." That comparison has nothing to do with the rules of the private entity. If a private entity chooses to make rules about X or Y, then those rules are in force in that private location. They are legally binding.
The same is true for a web forum. A web forum is a private location, run by a private entity, and maintaining a set of rules for all forum members to abide by. Those rules are publicly posted and all members need to abide by them.
In this forum, we have rules which ensure the safety of our members - many of them minors. These rules were developed over several years by a team of web experts including security experts at Symantec. The rules are here for everyone's protection and cannot be "excepted" for one or two members because they feel they are above the rules. The rules apply to every member, without exception.
If you have any questions at all about why our rules exist, or want clarification on any particular rule, please use the contact link below to contact the site owner.
To summarize, private location rules have NOTHING to do with freedom of speech which solely apply to government situations. These two are completely separate issues, for completely different situations. In the private sector, people who swear loudly and yell racist epithets are not welcome in a private church. People who attack others and post pornography are not welcome in our forums. We make this very clear in all of our rules, and we stand strongly by our desire to keep our forums a safe and legally secure entity.
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