Sunday, December 9, 2007

Free Speech

“Freedom of expression” did not develop in the West from purely idealistic motives. Nor is it necessarily a pretty thing. Like so much in civil society, we put up with it because the alternative is worse, and we'd rather cope with free speech, than with the free intimidation that results from its suppression.

David Warren is exactly right. That's why, in this country, no one has a right not to be offended. I, myself, am frequently offended — especially by those who insult my intelligence with their stupid propaganda. But, ....

The proper response to offensive speech and to stupid speech is more free speech, not less. Let them talk, and they will demonstrate conclusively the stupidity of their position. Censor them, and you make martyrs of people who don't merit being listened to — and you make it possible for other idiots to build support for them without having to admit what they actually said.

In the case of the David Warren column, some members of the Religion of Perpetual OutrageTM are offended that Maclean's published an excerpt of a Mark Steyn book, and have filed complaints with the national and provincial "Human Rights Commissions" in Canada. On this, David Warren says

My hope is that this case against Mark Steyn and Maclean's will be fruitful. It will be, if it inspires enough people -- especially journalists, of all political persuasions -- to express outrage at what has been done; and inspires Canada's free citizens into the necessary political action to put an end to the human rights commissions themselves. The worst possible result, is if the case fails to produce this response.
I'm with him.

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