September 27, 2012
'Free Speech' and the 1st Amendment Aren't Always the Same Thing

Americans seem curiously unaware that, in many countries, thoughtful, modern, secular-minded people don’t reject free speech — they reject the claim that it protects The Innocence of Muslims.Under the most advanced legal norms in their countries, free speech doesn’t include the right to incite hatred against racial or religious groups.
American society has made choices about which kinds of speech to permit and which to forbid. Since the mid-1960s, we have protected most racial and religious hate speech, even while we reject threats against individuals, incitement to immediate violence, and “fighting words.” Most of those choices, I think, are good ones. Attempts to silence hate speech may begin with good motives; but, over time, they tend to silence discussion, not to foster dialogue.
But that American view isn’t the “essence” of free speech. Much of the advanced, democratic world questions it, not from ignorance but from painful experience.

Read more. [Image: AP]

'Free Speech' and the 1st Amendment Aren't Always the Same Thing

Americans seem curiously unaware that, in many countries, thoughtful, modern, secular-minded people don’t reject free speech — they reject the claim that it protects The Innocence of Muslims.Under the most advanced legal norms in their countries, free speech doesn’t include the right to incite hatred against racial or religious groups.

American society has made choices about which kinds of speech to permit and which to forbid. Since the mid-1960s, we have protected most racial and religious hate speech, even while we reject threats against individuals, incitement to immediate violence, and “fighting words.” Most of those choices, I think, are good ones. Attempts to silence hate speech may begin with good motives; but, over time, they tend to silence discussion, not to foster dialogue.

But that American view isn’t the “essence” of free speech. Much of the advanced, democratic world questions it, not from ignorance but from painful experience.

Read more. [Image: AP]

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