Brad Torgersen has an interesting essay up on Speech and Punishment. He covers the value of free speech, why it isn’t free and why, if you take it seriously, then you need to be willing to defend speech you find offensive. So many today seem to think the free speech “should have limits” but this is the same as saying you don’t believe in free speech and he also notes that far to many people are suggesting the staff at Charlie Hebdo “had it coming” and they “free speech” isn’t free of consequences. Funny how the same person that says that sort of thing usually gets quite incensed at such obvious victim blaming.
Give it a read
After reading Dave Freer’s piece, it seemed like today would be a good day to compose my own thoughts in kind. Not because the Charlie Hebdo massacre is singularly horrific, but because the massacre has peeled back (once again) the tinfoil wrapper on a notion I find particularly pernicious: that the artists and writers who died in the Charlie Hedbo office should have known better than to offend Muslims. Incite them. Cause them to get angry. Angry enough to kill. Which is a lot like saying, “You’re free to speak, but you’re not free from consequences!” Doubtless you’ve read or heard some variation on that one too? From people eager to see artists, writers, pundits, and speakers punished professionally for any number of politically correct sins?
Consider the case of Orson Scott Card, who is now the #1 supervillain in a bizarro world comic book called: GAY SUPER JUSTICE WARRIORS. Card’s been kicked off projects for expressing his beliefs. The companies who’ve hired (and then fired) Card, were bowing to pressure from protesters. The activists smugly tell us Card deserves it, because Card is a homophobe. Which is apparently worse than anything imaginable. So bad, that Card’s participation in the marketplace — as a creator — must be challenged. He must be shut out. Blacklisted. Made to economically suffer for his WRONG WRONG WRONG thoughts, which he wrongly believed he could commit to paper.
I mean, Card should have known better!
Consider the (in)famous Ayaan Hirsi Ali, notorious firebrand and critic of dangerous religious dogmatism; specifically, Islamist jihadist dogmatism. She’s had speaking engagements at colleges cancelled (by the colleges themselves) after complaints and protests against her were lodged. As with Card, or perhaps I should say, ironically also like Card, Ayaan Hirsi Ali is accused of being a “phobe.” (Remember: “phobe” is the worst thing ever!) In her case, it’s Islamophobia, which would seem to be code for, “Astute analysis which dares to call the death cult of Islamist jihadism a death cult.” (And if you need to figure out what makes “Islam” and “Islamism” two different things, I refer you here.)
Ayaan Hirsi Ali should have known better!
Freedom of speech really is the most difficult freedom to live with, because we keep finding ways to screw it up. If we’re not banning dirty words, we’re banning porn. If we’re not banning porn, we’re banning religious symbols and the ten commandments. If we’re not banning the ten commandments, we’re banning ist words filled with ism on our college campuses. We kick writers and artists off jobs. We had the Red Scare and McCarthyism. Actors and directors in Hollywood were put out of work for supposedly being commies. Sometimes, they were out of work for decades. It financially and professionally ruined them. We now enjoy the Politically Correct scare and Social Justice Warriors. Again, we see pressure to put people out of work. Ruin them professionally. Or worse. We see excuse-making for events like Charlie Hebdo: they should have known better!