There have been a lot of discussions lately about freedom of speech. Some of this has centered around the question: Are we hurting the Nazis (Golden Dawn) in Greece by signing and circulating a petition to ask WordPress to take down their web site? (More on this below, there have been interesting developments.) What about (intentionally) offensive comedians, hired to perform at conventions and conferences? Are we right to get mad at the organizers for organizing that, or do we just assume that somebody out there finds it funny, so we should just back off and maybe go sit by the pool for a while or something? (You need to know what satire is to really understand.)
Often, people jump into any discussion where it looks like speech is being questioned, silenced, affected in any way, dare I say ‘repressed,’ with strong admonitions that at all costs one must not interfere with anyone’s freedom of expression. Those who jump in first and hardest are often lost causes. No amount of discussion, no slew of examples, no pile of evidence, no plethora of historical facts will talk them down from the position that all speech must be protected at all times no matter what the speech is, who is saying it, the context in which it is said, its consequences, how it is being “said,” or anything. Not only that, but that which damages or represses speech is generally over-defined to include any call for putting a lid of any kind on any thing.
Those people, with their blind rage against repression, need to do one thing: Shut up. (more…)