Wednesday, July 02, 2008
A Free Speech Outrage
This affair is, however, an excellent illustration of the chilling danger posed by laws which seek to ban "hate speech". Even if passed with the best intentions in the world, they are swiftly made use of by tyrants and theocrats who recognize quite well that any means of persuading the state to censor ideas can easily be used against their critics. Make no mistake - if Wilders was extradited and imprisoned, he would not be the last. Swiftly on the heels of that demand would come the next one, and the next, each one arrogantly presuming the right to punish anyone anywhere who says anything uncomplimentary about Islam. The OIC, in fact, referred to the "thin line" separating freedom of speech from what they want to be illegal. In other words, they're saying it's very easy to cross the line between what they view as permissible and impermissible criticism, which means the zone of permissible criticism must be a very small one indeed.
He really should have had a blog
I laugh, almost, at the way that nothing that happens is Zadig's fault. It seems disingenuous to me, almost tongue-in-cheek. "Oh please, good sirs, I acted with the purest of intentions!" I can't shake off the feeling that Voltaire is sitting inside the page laughing at us, protesting his own innocence when he knows his own tongue was downright wicked at times! It's conceit, I tell you, pure careless conceit, and I don't think Voltaire cares who knows it. There is a liberation in it, a sort of permission to love yourself with wry honesty and accept that, deep down, you're rather partial to yourself. Now, aren't you? Admit it.
One Way in which We Should Know Ourselves
I have for some time suspected we humans are born with a whole mess of innate drives, instincts, or predispositions that can skew our approach to the world when we are so unaware of them we cannot compensate for them. It even seems to me that much of what we call “wisdom” is a matter of compensating for the distortions to our reason, emotions, and values caused by those innate predispositions.