Friday, June 22, 2007

Too Much Freedom of Speech?

Consider freedom of speech. Hardly anyone actually supports unrestricted freedom to say what we want. Many of those defending Kilroy-Silk, for example, would be horrified by the extreme freedom of speech in Denmark, where pro-paedophile groups are allowed to speak with impunity. This would be a freedom too far.

But why? In his classic defence of liberty, John Stuart Mill distinguished between offense and harm. We cannot stop people doing or saying anything simply because it offends us. Too many people are offended by too many different things. We should only constrain the liberty of others if what they do causes harm. More at BBC News

What do you think? When is freedom of speech too much?

Restrictions on free speech [wiki] are prevalent whether we realize it or not.

The first morning of the 2005 school year held more than the typical jitters for Toni Kay Scott. One moment, the seventh-grader, known as T.K., was stepping from her mom's Ford pickup to join friends in front of Redwood Middle School in Napa, Calif. Minutes later, the police officer assigned to watch arriving students was steering her toward the principal's office.

Scott, an impish brunet with a tiny nostril stud, had violated Redwood's dress code. The code aimed to squelch gangs by requiring students to wear only certain clothes and solid colors. Scott could change her outfit and stay at school, or she could spend the day at home. "I said, 'There's nothing wrong with what I'm wearing. I'm going home,'" recalls Scott, a near straight-A student. "I thought it was kind of ridiculous." More at Time Magazine

No comments: