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"Freedom, but." isn't Freedom

7 February 2005


Freedom of Speech

"Freedom, but." isn't Freedom

"Meaningless blather from our so-called leaders is once again the response to a question of principle," observes Libertarianz leader Bernard Darnton.

"When asked about freedom of the press, the answer from the Prime Minister, her minions, and Kofi Annan at the United Nations, always seems to be 'Yes, but.'" says Darnton, who urges Western political leaders to take a stand: "Please tell us that you believe in free speech. That is, Free Speech, with no ifs, no buts, and no maybes."

"Kofi Annan has said that 'freedom of the press should be exercised in way which is respectful of religious beliefs' and has been quoted approvingly by Ethnic Affairs minister Chris Carter," notes Darnton, who points out in response that freedom of speech that can only be exercised in certain ways is not freedom; it is censorship. "Freedom of speech is too important to smother with empty references to 'social responsibility'," he says.

"To have any meaning, freedom of speech must explicitly include offensive speech. As libertarian author H.L.Mencken said, 'The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.'"

Concludes Darnton: "The Islamic world's completely hyperbolic reaction to the Danish Mohammed cartoons is an attempt to make us censor ourselves. We must not cave in to these brutish and oppressive demands."


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