Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Freedom of Speech Part 2

Due to comments received on my recent post regarding the freedom of speech, it’s clear that some issues I raised in that article require expansion and clarification.

Over the last few decades several forces have been at work in certain liberal western democracies, which have unfortunately, weakened our willingness and ability to confront a number of unsupportable and clearly harmful beliefs and dogmas.

I believe that key among these forces are:

1  The expansion of human rights legislation

2  The doctrine of multiculturalism

3  The rise and promulgation of political correctness

4  The growth and spread of moral and cultural relativism as an acceptable philosophical position.

In many ways these four forces are inextricably linked and believing in the opinions they promulgate has led to a diminution of both free speech and freedom of conscience. Many of the ideas in the above areas have unquestionably been adopted from the best of intentions and the noblest of motives. However, I believe they have also worked to undermine resistance to toxic and irrational opinions. 

In our desire to be seen to be fair and even-handed, we have fallen into the trap of attempting to treat all moral and cultural differences as equally valid and of equal value.

This has inevitably led to some pretty unedifying attempts to justify clearly unacceptable practises as not necessarily ‘worse,’ but simply ‘different.’ 

We need to have the courage and conviction to acknowledge the superiority of some moral positions and cultural practises over others and stop asserting that all beliefs, opinions and actions possess equal moral value.

For example, I would wish to argue that it is not simply different not to kill people for apostasy and adultery, it’s better

It’s better not to mutilate the genitals of young children. It’s better not to subjugate women and deny them equal rights. It’s better not to believe things without good evidence. It’s better not to brainwash children into believing in invisible sky monsters. It’s better not to allow courts based upon belief in an unknowable god to decide upon questions of justice. It’s better not to condemn people to death because they write a book, make a film, publish a cartoon or any other way insult one’s beliefs. 

Everyone has an absolute right to believe whatever they wish. What they do not have, not now, and I hope not ever, is the right to have their beliefs respected. You as an individual have rights. Your beliefs do not. I’m afraid that this clear and absolute distinction has tragically escaped the minds of many liberal and left-leaning thinkers.

Unless we in the West begin to vigorously assert the inviolability of our hard won freedoms, we shall find them eroded and diminished by default.

It would be an immense tragedy for the whole of western civilisation if were we to lose our rights and freedoms to a world view born in the minds of bronze-age, illiterate dessert tribesmen, who thought the earth was flat and for whom the wheelbarrow was the pinnacle of technological achievement.

However, it would be absolutely unforgivable, if we gave them away without a fight.

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