Free speech

From: pol
Category: Art
Date: 20 February 2006


Seems stupid to send the squalid Irving to jail for denying the Holocaust. As Chomsky says you're either for free speech or against it. Goebbels agreed with free speech for people who were antisemitic nazis. Free speech means you let people says things you don't like.

However there is a crucial distinction between the right of free speech, and the publication of the Mohammed cartoons. Religion is of course only an established fact for the faithful, and in pluralistic societies there is an obvious debate about which religion, if any, is true. This is substantively different from denying historical facts for political purposes, and a newspaper or publisher should feel no obligation to print lies and fantasies (which of course they often do in other contexts) such as Holocaust denial, antisemitism or racism, and in fact the state generally prohibits the publication of these categories of outright lies. That is obviously different from satirising or disagreeing with anothers' religious beliefs. Attacking unproven ideas (religion, politics, etc), is different from telling lies about historical facts or peddling racism or other bigotry.

Not all offensiveness is equal. But that doesn't mean offensive men like Irving should be jailed, one would just hope that most people wouldn't publish his views or agree with them. Gottit?