Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Liberal hypocrisy on freedom of speech: Chris Bertram, speaking of a new British law which outlaws "glorification of terrorism," writes:

Since this measure is, therefore, a far more immediate and effective threat to free speech than the complaints of genuinely and synthetically offended members of a religious minority, why does it not provoke a similar level of outrage?
First, the question is disingenuous: what is a threat to free speech is not complaints, but violence. Secondly, I personally am outraged, but I have a similar question myself. For years, an even bigger threat to free speech has been defended by those on the left.

I'm speaking of the hate crime laws that are in effect in most countries through the western world (though not the USA). For example,

...it has apparently become illegal in Canada to advocate traditional Christian opposition to homosexual sex. For example, the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission ordered the Saskatoon Star Phoenix and Hugh Owens to each pay $1,500 to each of three gay activists as damages for publication of an advertisement, placed by Owens, which conveyed the message that the Bible condemns homosexual acts.
Hate speech is criminalized not because it is considered really bad, but because of its connections to violence. Now the connections between glorification of terrorism and violence are pretty clear: to establish them, all you have to do is interview any suicide bomber (I mean those that were caught, which happens once in a while). On the other hand, the connection between putting some bible verses in an ad and violence against homosexuals is....far more shaky.

So let's see. Whats a bigger threat to free speech: a law that criminalizes speech thats clearly connected to violence, or a law that criminalizes speech with a possible, though not well-established, connections to violence?


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