Ballmer: U.S. is "most extreme" about free speech

Ballmer: U.S. is "most extreme" about free speech

Summary: Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer called U.S. "most extreme" about free speech.

TOPICS: Microsoft, Browser

Here's the quote of the day, courtesy of Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, speaking to oil executives in Houston yesterday. From a report:

Ballmer suggested that Google's decision to no longer filter out Internet searches objectionable to the Chinese government was an irrational business decision. After all, Ballmer said, the U.S. imports oil from Saudi Arabia despite the censorship that goes on in that country.

"The U.S. is the most extreme when it comes to free speech," said Ballmer, noting however that even the U.S. bans child pornography, while France bans Internet access to Nazi imagery.

Really? Is Ballmer really comparing the censorship of the Internet in China to the U.S. position on child pornography? That's so ridiculously ludicrous to me that I certainly hope that Forbes took that part of Ballmer's answer out of context.

And what's all this jazz about the U.S. being the "most extreme when it comes to free speech?" How can you be extreme about something like free speech? Either it's free or it's not. There's nothing extreme about that. Is there a way for free speech to be 95 percent free and 5 percent censored? If so, then it's not really free speech.

The beauty of the first amendment of the U.S. Constitution is that it allows each and every one of us to speak our minds in front of anyone who'll listen, the freedom to speak blasphemy, jibberish, crazy talk or just plain silliness - no matter who you are.

Even Steve Ballmer.

Topics: Microsoft, Browser

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  • just liberal talk!

    a la Ballmer!
    Linux Geek
    • Really?

      An overweight, rich, greedy white guy who values money over human rights and free speech is a liberal?

      But a free to everyone, community supported software project that fights against a large corporate entity is what...conservative/republican in nature?

      Your uninformed, baseless, and often insane comments would be funny, if you didn't have so many other knuckleheads in the boat with you.
      • HMMMM

        Google dont fight Microsoft for anything other than large amounts of money.
        Btw google apps are not free for the enterprise either and google also have some closed source code too.

        Bearing in mind google helped in censoring china in the first place I dont think that they have much more of a leg to stand on.
  • Your taking him out of context.

    He didnt compare China's great firewall he didnt even hint at it.
    He actualy accused google of being hypocritical because they drive cars with fuel from another country that censors the internet in a similar fashion.

    He made a good point about that I believe I doubt it is one that most people think about.

    As far as free speech goes I think your right having said that Im not sure that censoring free speech relates well to banning child porn.
    • Ballmer is right. We put the welfare of minors over ...

      ... the importance of free speech. The freedom to practice religion (also a form of free speech) is also curtailed if it puts someone's welfare in jeopardy. We also have libel laws, etc. Therefore our free speech is not in fact 100% free. I don't believe Ballmer was comparing the morality of banning child pornography, with the morality of censoring political speech. He was just making the point that the degree of free speech varies among countries.
      P. Douglas
    • RE: Ballmer: U.S. is

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  • Maybe refering to the people who can be too extreme

    We live in a country where we are free to speek our mind.

    Unfortunatelly, many feel we should be free to jump on a stage and force the mike out of someone's hand to broadcast their counterpoint.

    People feel they have the right to slander people unfairly, and wrongfully because "it's covered under free speech"

    Remember the begining of "censored CD's", where labels where instructed to label them if they contained "dirty" lyrics?

    Many artists and other claimed it was denying their right of freedom of speech, when in truth it was nothing of the sort.

    So yes, we are "extreme" when it comes to free speech, becuase too many people don't understand what it really means.
    John Zern
    • Actually, there is no such thing as too extreme

      When it comes to free speech, it is only YOUR OPINION that the censored CD's were not infringing on free speech, when I say that it bluntly was infringing on free speech.

      Also, one person's 'dirty' is another person's not, and value judgements should NOT come into matters of law, period and done with.
      • I disagree.

        They never censored anything, all people asked for was the right to be able to know what they're spending their money on, what was inside the case, they never forced anyone to change the lyrics. That's censorship.

        All this was was a buyers's right to know. The alternative was for the buyer to spend their money, find out they didn't want their 10 year old to listen to it, but not being able to return it as many retailers will not take back an open CD.

        The artist loved it because they made their money regardless of whether parents allowed their kids to listen to it, "who cares if the thing sits in the drawer" mentality

        But once people said they want to know [b]before[/b] giving their money over to the artist what was in the packege, well thats when all the crying started.

        So no, it wasn't censoreship, it was a buyers right to know.

        Censorship is when you're arrested for putting those lyrics on a CD, not for the act of letting us know they're there.
        John Zern
  • RE: Ballmer: U.S. is Free speech isn't free.

    Not when the supreme court mistakes money as speech.

    Money buys. And this country was not founded on who is able to buy the most.

    Indeed, those with more money, as we have seen the last couple of decades, tend to lobby and push through things that curtail others' freedom in this country. What passed the other day is grossly unconstitutional, but this is not a political forum.
    • Explain how what the Supreme Court did was unconstitutional and...

      how the McCain-Feingold Bill is constitutional.

      In fact, what the SCOTUS did was to uphold the right of free speech for everybody; for regular folks and corporations/businesses which are also composed of people with the right of free speech.

      So, go ahead and explain how McCain-Feingold is constitutional and why undoing the portions of it which limited free speech was unconstitutional.

      And don't play the rich-vs-poor card or the corporations-vs-people card.

      Come up with a good justification for your opinion and don't rationalize.
      • You beat me to it, adornoe

        ... I was just about to ask the same question: "What was unconstitutional about the SCOTUS ruling?" Thanks for jumping in. I couldn't have said it better myself.

        Also agree on the "rich vs. poor" crap. Wealth envy is growing exponentially every day, and it's getting quite tedious. Thanks again.
  • Sad reality: All countries filter web in some way!

    In someway another. That's truth.
  • If Ballmer could just get them to censor his earnings reports

    Who the hell is Steve Ballmer to lecture anyone on
    business? He's run that place in to the ground.
  • See Ballmer understands business

    He doesn't give a hypocritical darn about the "moral standard" brouhaha.
  • Yes, you can be extreme about free speach

    If you followed the news yesterday then you know US is extreme about free speach. Yesterday the Supreme Court decided that Corporations should have free speach too, just like people, and if they want to drown out political candidates' voices by spending millions of dollars on TV commercials then they should be able to do so. The US also says such commercials should legally be able to lie about the political candidates:,8599,1843796,00.html

    This decision means politicians who want to win elections will not dare oppose big corporations on any issue. That means US will have a "false democracy" because although there will be elections, the elected people are going to represent corporations, not ordinary citizens.

    If this is not extreme then what is? I think this is beyond extreme.
    • It is beyond extreme, to the point of stupid

      PRIVATE CITIZENS have free speech rights.... corporations do not and SHOULD NOT, and everyone I know of is lambasting the Supreme Court decision, even on the side of the Republicans!

      If that doesn't show that this was a bad decision, when liberals and conservatives BOTH agree on the subject, nothing does!
      • Only one problem..

        you'd have to rewrite the constitution, which was brought up because of property rights and corporate governance, and the safety of individuals to own and protect property. Corporations are considered a person(one single person per corp), and even have voting rights.(one vote per corp)

        If you're suggesting we rewrite the constitution, I'm not for that; that is treading on dangerous territory. Protecting folks right to make money the most efficient way they can is paramount to a surviving democracy. Take away the that right and it will fall like a house of cards.

        If corporations are lying on their commercials they can always be taken to court for that. Political groups damaged by not having equal time can sue and make enough money to pay for even more advertisements.

        There is always a way around these handicaps.You can even form your own lobby groups to lobby congress and put out ads for TV. That is why the NRA has been successful in protecting the second amendment. If folks are mad at congress, join the Consumer Reports political lobby and kick congress's ass that way. That is what I do. We got them to pass some credit card reform recently and we are lobbying congress to put up a consumer financial protection agency.

        P.S. - Ballmer's an idiot - everybody knows it. Why anyone pays attention to that chair throwing monkey boy, is simply amazing!
        • re: Only one problem..

          [i]you'd have to rewrite the constitution, which was brought up because of property rights and corporate governance, and the safety of individuals to own and protect property. Corporations are considered a person(one single person per corp), and even have voting rights.(one vote per corp)[/i]

          This is retarded. Corporations neither have the right to vote nor are they considered one single person per corp.

          The "reasoning" behind the majority opinion is that corporations are collections of individuals engaged in an enterprise, and these individuals have rights.

          Which is true, as far as it goes. But this decision is the height of judicial activism, and activism detached from real world considerations at that.

          There's no way on earth to conclude that investors' interests are mirrored by corporate interests. Poor, dumb investors voices will never be heard. This court is an ass.

          none none
          • Another problem you "conveniently" forgot to mention...

            is that, if the corporations, as a collection of people, don't have the same right to free speech, then why do unions, as a collection of people, have the right to that free speech and to petition the government as group.

            The amount of money which the unions contributed to the liberals in the last few elections, and especially to the Obama campaign in 2008, was truly obscene.

            If money corrupts from the side of "big business", then it also corrupts from the side of "big unions".

            So, why don't you go ahead and explain how unions, which only represent about 8% of working people, should have a disproportionate right to free speech, while it is denied to corporations which represent a much larger group of people, specifically, almost all working Americans.