Thursday, August 14, 2008

I Hate Hate Speech, and the Real Terrorist Threat

For those who missed it, Europe continues its dangerous trend towards suppressing free speech and expression under the guise of "Hate Speech". In the latest absurd example:

...a "pro-family" activist group in Spain has filed charges against the organisers of the 2008 Madrid Gay Pride march, accusing them of making hateful statements against Catholics, pro-family organisations, and those politicians opposed to the Spanish Socialist Worker's Party (PSOE)."

As so many of us predicted, those who were to be protected by hate speech have now become its victims, due to an ever expanding definition of what constitutes "hate". This really must be read to be believed:

Article 525.1 of the Spanish Penal Code, which HazteOir is invoking to support their case, carries heavy fines for those who seek to "hurt the feelings of the members of a religious confession" by "publicly, by word or through any type of document, make fun of their dogmas, beliefs, rites, or ceremonies, or publicly humiliate those who profess or practice them."

Hurt feelings? You have got to be fucking kidding me. Such a law, if universally enforced, would gut all political and sociological discourse. Giving religion a special pass is even worse, allowing the religious to criticize others, but not the other way around.

This is a movement that needs to be opposed, vigorously, and without delay. Our values of free speech and expression, and the pragmatic benefits of allowing free debate, and yes, even hurt feelings, is what makes the marketplace of ideas work. A society that does not allow hurt feelings will make no progress, and will atrophy just as the Middle Eastern nations, the Chinese, and everyone else in history who isolated ideas from criticism has.

This is the real threat that Islamic Jihadists pose to the United States, and the west in general. It's not bombs, or hijackers that we need fear. It is the insidious ideas of censorship, of placing religious and other state-supported ideas beyond reproach, that threaten our freedoms. If I am not allowed to criticize someones religion, or draw pictures of who I please, or toss crackers in the trash as I see fit, my freedoms have been curtailed the same as if there were an Al-qaeda member holding a gun to my head.

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