Friday, February 23, 2007

Free to be Offended and Offensive

Selwyn Duke makes some excellent points in his recent article about offensive speech.

Let me whet your appetite:

If you can’t defeat your adversaries in the arena of ideas, you have to keep them out of the competition; if you can’t refute what’s argued, you must stop it from being spoken.

The voicing of the unpopular, being the very soul of free speech,
the right to give and take offense shall not be infringed.

Sometimes I think it is time to insert the above into our First Amendment.

So, first you demonize speech refutative of your agenda by labeling it “offensive,” which cultivates social codes and attendant social pressure facilitative of the change you desire. Then, as these social codes become more widely accepted and entrenched, expressing them through rules and laws becomes more acceptable. This leads to the next stage, the organizational expression of them – the speech codes in various private institutions. And once sufficiently inured to these, it’s time for the last stage of this imprisoning of ideas: The legislative expression of these social codes known as hate speech laws.

Thus, there is a lesson here we ignore at our own peril. You can have freedom from being offended or you can freedom of speech, but you cannot have both.

This is why I have no tolerance for the Offensiveness Ploy. It is manipulation by the mediocre, victory for the vacuous, derision by the dull.

I encourage you to read the rest of the article. I firmly believe free speech is losing ground in academia and will soon be non-existent in the public sphere.

1 comment:

Russell Smith said...

I'm afraid i find this post very offensive. It is very condescending to those whose primary mode of expression is to come up with creative euphemisms to spare peoples feelings -- for instance:

We're not short -- we're vertically impaired.
We're not fat -- we're enjoying an excess of self.
We're not stuped -- we're intellectually inhibited.
We're not losers -- we're victory challenged.

Russell (thanks for the visit to the Eagle and Child)