“First, if any opinion is compelled to silence, that opinion may, for aught we can certainly know, be true. To deny this is to assume our own infallibility.’
‘Secondly, though the silenced opinion be an error, it may, and very commonly does, contain a portion of truth; and since the general or prevailing opinion on any subject is rarely or never the whole truth, it is only by the collision of adverse opinions that the remainder of the truth has any chance of being supplied. ‘
‘Thirdly, even if the received opinion be not only true, but the whole truth; unless it is suffered to be, and actually is, vigorously and earnestly contested, it will, by most of those who receive it, be held in the manner of a prejudice, with little comprehension or feeling of its rational grounds. ‘
And not only this, but, fourthly, the meaning of the doctrine itself will be in danger of being lost, or enfeebled, and deprived of its vital effect on the character and conduct: the dogma becoming a mere formal profession, inefficacious for good, but cumbering the ground, and preventing the growth of any real and heartfelt conviction, from reason or personal experience.”
-John Stuart Mill ‘On Liberty: Chapter II-Of The Liberty Of Thought And Discussion’
When it comes to the moral courage of people running our institutions, like politicians, I rarely trust in moral courage to make an appearance.
I mean, I’d like to, but some knowledge of the human heart and some experience of how people actually behave makes me, I think, more depressively realistic.
Many people, much of the time, prefer stability and knowing where they stand in hierarchies of some authority as opposed to the kinds of sacrifice required to defend principles under attack (illusory and real). A steady paycheck is what many seek, frankly, with some bit of respect and some security (illusory and real).
In other words, tend to your own garden and look with much scepticism at any authority figures in your life (a few are genuinely admirable, many are opportunistically respectable, some are fools and knaves, and a few are genuine idiots).
Activists of course, many of them operating in a kind of mental slavery, seek to overthrow what they see as the morally illegitimate institutions which have oppressed them, and control those institutions, bending them to their will.
As for your freedoms…good luck.
Of course, there are other forces at work.
In addition to rapid technological change (the technology IS the thing at most media companies) and the failure of many old media companies to properly adapt to these changes (sitting on their old business models), most publications usually need deep donor pockets or other revenue streams for purposes of survival.
Ideology, thus, can expand its influence into more media outlets and more lives in our Republic (imploring and shaming all to recognize special classes of victim groups, enter the grievance/guilt Olympics and ‘check privilege’ against the ‘history of oppression’ on the way to radical and revolutionary freedom).
Most of these people are simply not friends of speech.
Sam Harris is a neuroscientist and professed member of the New Atheists, yet because of his apostasy in highlighting the actual beliefs of one the new protected class groups (Muslims) in the oppression hierarchy, he has come under scurrilous and constant attack.
As previously posted: From TheFire.Org-‘The Condescending Paternalism Of Williams President Adam Falk:’
As FIRE co-founder Alan Charles Kors has said: “You cannot say to people, you’re too weak to live with freedom. Only that group is strong enough to live with freedom.”
But that’s exactly what Adam Falk, the patronizing president of Williams College, has said to the college’s student body. Yesterday, Falk unilaterally canceled a speech by John Derbyshire, who was invited as part of the student-run “Uncomfortable Learning” speaker series.
From Adam Falk’s letter to Williams students about the matter:
‘Today I am taking the extraordinary step of canceling a speech by John Derbyshire, who was to have presented his views here on Monday night. The college didn’t invite Derbyshire, but I have made it clear to the students who did that the college will not provide a platform for him.
Free speech is a value I hold in extremely high regard. The college has a very long history of encouraging the expression of a range of viewpoints and giving voice to widely differing opinions. We have said we wouldn’t cancel speakers or prevent the expression of views except in the most extreme circumstances. In other words: There’s a line somewhere, but in our history of hosting events and speeches of all kinds, we hadn’t yet found it.
We’ve found the line. Derbyshire, in my opinion, is on the other side of it. Many of his expressions clearly constitute hate speech, and we will not promote such speech on this campus or in our community.
We respect—and expect—our students’ exploration of ideas, including ones that are very challenging, and we encourage individual choice and decision-making by students. But at times it’s our role as educators and administrators to step in and make decisions that are in the best interest of students and our community. This is one of those times.’
John Derbyshire raised quite a stir after publishing ‘The Talk: Nonblack Version,’
‘There is a talk that nonblack Americans have with their kids, too. My own kids, now 19 and 16, have had it in bits and pieces as subtopics have arisen. If I were to assemble it into a single talk, it would look something like the following. ‘
Of course, what better place than a liberal arts college to talk these matters out?
Read up. Get your reasons and arguments together. Show up at the debate, alone or with friends. Listen to the other fellow. Think. Respond. Think some more. Debate.
Publishing and disseminating the thoughts and ideas of others is not necessarily an endorsement of those thoughts and ideas, but it is absolutely vital in maintaining a free and open society:
Out of principle alone, here’s Derbyshire discussing his general worldview:
Two older, but likely worthwhile links:
Brendan O’Neill At Spiked:
‘A true devotee of freedom of speech says, ‘Let everyone speak, because it is important that all sides are heard and that the public has the right to use their moral muscles and decide who they trust and who they don’t’. The new, partial campaigners for friends’ speech effectively say, ‘Let my friend speak. She is interesting. She will tell the public what they need to hear.’ These are profoundly different positions, the former built on liberty and humanism, the latter motored by a desire to protect oneself, and oneself alone, from censorship. The former is free speech; the latter ‘me speech’.
Back to Yale with Christopher Hitchens:
Full post here.
Reason post here.
NY Times piece here.
Old news I know, but it seems that the Yale Press was genuinely afraid that publishing this book could potentially lead to violence, and that they are responsible for the consequences of such potential violence.
“…Yale had consulted a range of experts before making its decision and that “[a]ll confirmed that the republication of the cartoons by the Yale University Press ran a serious risk of instigating violence.”
See Also: If you thought the cartoons were bad, more on the Fitna movie here. From The NY Times: Review Of Christopher Caldwell’s Book “Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: Immigration, Islam, and the West” Libertarians love this issue: Repost-A Canadian Libertarian Making Noise: Ezra Levant
From THEFIRE.org Via Youtube: ‘Juan Williams On Firing From NPR, ‘Muzzled,’ And Threats Posed To Free Speech’
Free Speech & Mainstreamed Activism
Two Tuesday Links On Free Speech