Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Freedom of Speech and Accommodation

2011 01 25
Radiofree Canada - the fight continues

My children are truly sick of hearing me explain the value of Free Speech.  Even more are they tired of my explaining how the current wave of effluvium referred to generously as political correctness misunderstands the purpose and value of Free Speech.

The first thing the PCers get wrong is the need to be accommodating when someone expresses themselves in a way in which you disagree.  They have adopted this approach in an effort to  force people to pay attention to the expressions of new immigrant groups who are doing things differently or who are saying things with which we disagree.

Being free to say whatever flits through the ether of your brainpan does not guarantee a decent response.  You can say "Those @#%@#$@ Jews have screwed up my life".  On hearing this diatribe it is not incumbent on me to listen politely.  I can tell you to your face you are braindead bigot.  Nothing obliges me to politely listen or to accept or try to understand your position. 

Neither do I have to listen to you telling me why polygamy is good or why my choice of God (there is no God by the way except in the minds of those who need his help to win football games or wars and of course those who continue to believe in Santa Claus).  That a person is guaranteed the ability to express themselves does not in any way mean they are guaranteed a receptive or approving or even a polite audience.

Having free speech allows stupid ideas to be aired in public.  That is the point to it. 

When the nazis or the commies or the CSISsies spew their vitriol and stupidity (all three groups have espoused that we should put people in jail without letting anyone know about it, with no recourse to the courts and without telling the incarcerated even what are the charges against them) other smarter more reasonable people can say publicly that things are amiss and that these totalitarian groups are wrong.  Then the people can decide.

Notice - the people can decide.  Governments decide nothing.  Governments do not have morals, they have interests (yes, I quote Machiavelli - was he wrong?).  Morality comes from the people.

As to the word "faggot" or "fagot" as it is spelled in the UK:  In less tolerant times society burned witches at the stake.  They would bind offensive women or women who had recklessly let slip that they were intelligent, to a stake, throw a bunch of sticks around her and set fire to the lot.   The bunch of sticks were called "faggots". 

Homosexuals were held in such low regard that upon being found out they would be thrown live and untied directly onto the fire.  No one cared to waste good stakes and cord on a homosexual. 

From this came the use of the word "faggot" to describe male homosexuals. 

Makes you think about using the word in polite conversation.  Or any conversation at all. 

Crude losers will continue to use the word, blissfully unaware of what they are saying or why it might be offensive. 

Most of the rest of us will hesitate.

And that is how you use Free Speech to deal with speech that is inappropriate.  You DO NOT BAN IT.

In free society speech adapts.  It must be free for this to happen. 

My comment on God is out of respect for John Stuart Mills, a deeply devout Brit, who decades ago made the case for freedom of speech in his foundation work "On Liberty".  He allowed that even people who would disparage his God must be allowed to express that view.  It would then be open to him to correct the error.

Anyone reading this has a computer and access to internet.  "On Liberty" is freely available.  No reason or excuse to remain ignorant.

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