Saturday, September 29, 2007

Free Speech and Spineless Dives

An excellent article here by Jonah Goldberg on how "freedom of speech" includes not only the right to say certain things, but also the right not to say something and the right to criticize that speech.

When someone gives a controversial or offensive statement, defenders will often respond to critics by appealing to the fact that the person has a right to say it. Goldberg writes:
This whole line of argumentation is a sign of intellectual weakness or cowardice. Take, for example, that mossy cliché “I may disagree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it!”

The only reasonable response is, “Who gives a rat’s patoot?” If I deny the reality of the Holocaust, or insist that “2 plus 2 equals a duck,” or that I can make ten-minute brownies in six minutes, responding that you may disagree with what I say but will defend my right to say it is a shabby way to sound courageous while actually taking a spineless dive. How brave of you to defend me from a threat that doesn’t exist while lamely avoiding actually challenging my statements.