Protecting Speech that you Hate


There is one thing a lot of people seem to forget about free speech. Those of us who actually believe in free speech are those who work to protect the speech we hate. It is not about protecting the speech of those with whom we agree. It is not about protecting the speech of our friends. It is about protecting speech  we despise .  Fro example, if you are a Christian you should fight to protect the speech of Satanists. That is what we must work to defend. If we are not able to do that we don’t really believe in free speech at all.


It reminds me of what I learned from watching minor hockey. Frankly, I was disgusted by my fellow parents when I watched my young sons play minor hockey. With hair trigger tempers, many of these parents turned viciously on young referees who were often only a couple of years older than our children. The parents saw every perceived mistake as an assault on their perfect children and complained vociferously about each call while ignoring the mistake of their own children. I never saw them complaining about mistaken calls in our own favor, only those against us. As a result I lost all respect for their claims that the young referees were making unpardonable mistakes. Had the parent complained equally about all mistaken calls I might have taken them seriously. It is the same with free speech. Defend all speech or admit you don’t really favour free speech at all.


Although I don’t know much about the attack on Salman Rushdie by a man wielding a knife perhaps because he is despised by much of the Muslim world because they don’t like what he said about their religious leader, Rushdie said this about on the topic: “The defense of free speech begins at the point where they say something you can’t stand. You often have to defend people you find outrageous, unpleasant and disgusting.”


It is not important to fight for people to have the freedom to say things you like. You have to have the capacity to listen to people whose opinions you strongly disagree with. Even if you hate their opinions or even hate them. As Piers Morgan, of Piers Morgan Uncensored said the day Rushdie was attacked, “you should be able to tolerate their right to have a different opinion.”

In most Muslim countries this is not on the table. They don’t want that. They resist the right of someone like Rushdie to express his views. More and more in the United States and Canada this point of view is gaining strength. That is why, it seems to me, free speech is on the decline.

According to a recent study in the UK. 86% of students want a trigger warning before they hear something offensive. This even includes classics of English literature like Canterbury Tales and Shakespeare. 36% want academics fired if they say something hurtful or offensive. If speech is not even free in Universities where is it free?

Rikki Schlott a columnist with New York Post mentioned how New York University issues student cards on which it placed a bias hotline for you to phone if you are offended by something you hear.

Many liberals now claim words are violence. If that is true, as Schlott said, then you must fight words with violence because that is how you fight violence with violence. Does that not follow?

Why are young people in particular so anxious? They fear words. They want trigger warnings. Is it because they have been coddled all their lives? I think this is part of the problem

According, to Piers Morgan there is “a celebration of victimhood in society.”  There is prestige in being a victim. People want to be victims because it gives them special status. He of course blames “the woke brigade.” I don’t doubt that extreme liberals are often at fault, but so are extreme conservatives. Are they all woke? Who is left to defend free speech?

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