Jeff Jarvis has an excellent post today about the Internet As the First Amendment.
The internet is the First Amendment brought to life. Our First Amendment argues that it is both undesirable and impossible to contain speech and the marketplace of ideas. The internet enforces that idea. You simply can’t contain speech on it. Oh, governments will try. And those who favor rule by the offended will try to make them. And companies have become accomplices to regimes’ crimes against speech by handing over speakers’ identities (see Yahoo in China and Google in India). These are, of course, the areas where anonymity has its place (the ethic of identity in these cases is protecting the identity of speakers).
So we can treat the First Amendment and the moral of speech as exceptionalism, because it has been. Or we can recognize that the internet offers the openness of speech to anyone anywhere, though not without risk, and we who have this privilege can make it our mission to educate others about the inevitability and benefits of free speech.