I decided some time ago, after some consideration, to subscribe to Oliver Kamm's position about free speech, which is, as he formulates it, nearly absolutist.
Here are a few excerpts from a freshly written post by Kamm, explaining his position:
...While free speech hurts and offends, there is nothing wrong in this. In almost no case is anyone entitled to restitution or protection. (The strictly limited exceptions are where there is 'clear and present danger'; incitement to crime; or defamation. By defamation, I naturally mean a statement that is damaging and false. I do not mean - as one reader of this blog has rueful cause to recollect - a statement that is damaging and true;
...There is no speech more disreputable and fraudulent than Holocaust denial; but the reason it's objectionable is that it's false, not that it's offensive. The only proper recourse to it is the discipline of historical scholarship and critical inquiry, as opposed to the fakery practised by Irving.
...the Stop the War Coalition, which - as my readers know - is a coalition only in the technical sense of binding Islamists and Leninists... a totalitarian organisation for whom the principles of free speech are as inconceivable as Darwin's natural selection was to the late Rev. Billy James Hargis. But I hope the import of this sort of campaigning is not lost on those who might otherwise sympathise with what they take to be the Coalition's purported (though bogus) anti-war message.
"Civilization is not self-supporting. It is artificial. If you are not prepared to concern yourself with the upholding of civilization -- you are done." (Ortega y Gasset)
Thursday, March 27, 2008