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Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Free Speech Sense From Across The Pond

I'm feeling a bit uninspired lately and others are covering recent events quite well enough.  So, today I'd like to highlight that there are two articles over at Popehat written yesterday and today that I think are worth reading.

The first one is called Confronting Junk Science: Keep Calm And Carry On, and dare I say that Ken, who is American, has a better appreciation for Britain's lack of freedom of speech than perhaps a truly sad majority of Britons? For instance:
In the United Kingdom, you have an arena with a level of protection for free speech that — and I say this out of love, with a debt of gratitude for my common law heritage and the language I love — sucks donkey balls. It sucks so badly that we've had to pass laws specifically providing that your ludicrous defamation judgments usually aren't enforceable here. My point is this: to the extent you employ censorious measures, you can expect them to be turned against you later by your foes, with the cooperation of your largely censorship-indifferent government. Do not take up any weapon you don't want used against you.
The whole post is awesome and truly destroys the arguments that some people's views aren't worth hearing from.  Public health zealots, including the entirety of the WHO, believe that only some people should be allowed to present a viewpoint to the public, and those zealots will go to great lengths to demonise anyone who disagrees with them.

And when you've finished that blog post, you should consider reading the next blog post, which is Subjectivity Is Slippier Than Any Slope.  (Yes, that slippery slope we've all been warning you about, well it can be applied to everything people don't like, which is why we keep warning you about it.) It is equally awesome, and covers the salient dangers of making exceptions to free speech.  Ken writes: 
But there's a third bucket of free speech exceptions — and it's slippier than the slippery slope. The third bucket contains arguments that speech should be illegal when it offends or upsets people. The slippery slope metaphor is inadequate to capture the danger of the contents of this bucket, because you don't need to posit the subjective decisions of future litigants and judges and prosecutors and jurors. The subjectivity is already build in to the model.
I truly wish someone would clone him and then export about a million Kens over here, because we need more voices to stand up for free speech and civil liberties, and far fewer "censorious douchebags" (as Ken would call them) in our government and public health bodies.

I don't always agree with everything Ken writes, but he always educates and entertains me regardless.  I also have no idea how Ken feels about smoking, smokers, or specifically about whether tobacco companies should be able to use a shiny trade mark on their packs. Based on Ken's views in all of the stuff I have read from him, I really do not think I need to ask.