One of them is for a company or government to deny someone access to it. Pakistan, for instance, blocked its countrymen from accessing the Internet video site YouTube after officials saw videos allegedly offensive to Islam.
Most governments today still try to just stop the flow of information when they don't like it. And it's usually because they don't like how the information reflects on them: According to free-speech advocate Reporters Without Borders, China, Brazil and Thailand all have blocked access for their people to YouTube because they found the videos "subversive," embarrassing to the government or simply critical of the sovereign.
But there are more subtle ways to suppress speech -- and those methods are used here.
One of them is political correctness.
Liberals have taken to calling everything they disagree with "hate speech" -- including Bible passages that conflict with the pro-homosexuality agenda. If you're a member of an organization that wants the border secured, you're a member of a "hate group."
What a great device to "win" a debate: labeling your opponent's words and arguments "hate," and therefore unworthy of consideration or even uttering.
Interesting, since you can see plenty of bile spewing forth on left-wing Web sites. We can't print some of the words, and refuse to pass on some of the sentiments used, on the left-wing sites about former first lady Nancy Reagan, but we can tell you they weren't very civil or sympathetic when Mrs. Reagan was hospitalized recently.
The National Council of La Raza, a Hispanic organization, has threatened to go after cable news sponsors unless the tone of debate on their programs changes regarding immigration. La Raza contends "hate groups" are being given a microphone.
Colleges and universities have become notorious for speech codes that, unconstitutionally, attempt to prohibit speech that hurts other people's feelings. Thankfully, the University of Utah recently eliminated its speech code that, among other things, prohibited the posting of fliers containing material that is "racist, sexist, indecent, scandalous ... ." Who will decide what is "scandalous"? Or even "racist" or "sexist"? The Thought Police?
Another trick you will most definitely see played on the presidential campaign trail is bashing those who are pro-defense and pro-war-on-terror as "fear mongering."
The threat posed by radical Islam is real, and actually left quite a hole in the real estate in New York a few years ago as we recall. But those on the left will say that those of us who want to prosecute the war on terror in an affirmative and assertive way are fear mongering.
You know what? Some fear doesn't have to be mongered!
And you know what else? Those who attempt to stifle the debate by calling the other side "fear mongers" are actually peddling their own brand of fear: They're trying to tell you that you should be afraid of certain ideas.
Maybe you should, maybe you shouldn't. Depends on the idea. Depends on the individual. That's up to you to decide, isn't it?
And how can you decide if people aren't free to speak their minds?
The way to combat real fear and hatred is by opening people's minds and hearts, not shutting their mouths.