Hitchens on free speech


in Law, Politics, Rants

Christopher Hitchens provides a stirring and provocative defence of free speech on TVO.

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. January 9, 2017 at 8:14 pm
Milan August 14, 2017 at 5:27 pm

This is worth listening to again while there are Nazi rallies happening in North America.

. August 15, 2017 at 2:55 pm

Ranking countries by their blasphemy laws

A new report from the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom assesses 71 countries that punished blasphemy

The five countries deemed to practise the grossest violations of international standards were all Muslim-majority lands. Top came Iran and Pakistan, both countries where “blasphemers” can face death. At the other extreme came Ireland, which introduced a new blasphemy law in 2009 on the grounds that the constitution required such legislation. There have been no convictions under the law and initial moves to prosecute Stephen Fry, a British actor, for stridently anti-theistic remarks were dropped amid general embarrassment.

Although Canada appears on the list, with the ninth-mildest regime, the authors commend the fact that Canadian law explicitly upholds the right to robust religious debate, as long as it is conducted in “good faith and decent language”. New Zealand’s legislation affirms something quite similar.

. August 18, 2017 at 1:45 am
. August 18, 2017 at 1:46 am

“The vast majority of Americans would sooner have their communities hit by a plague of locusts than by the torch-bearing racists who invaded Charlottesville. Nevertheless, it is vitally important to recognize that people are constitutionally free to hold even the most deplorable views, and to express them as well. Counter-protesters, for their part, are equally entitled to say clearly and forcefully that racism, anti-Semitism and similar beliefs that denigrate or deny the humanity of others have no place in our society.

Neither side, however, has a right to start throwing punches. Nor should the mere risk of such violence be used as pretext for denying people the ability to exercise their right to free speech or assembly.

These exceptionally American notions seem lost on some of our leaders. A case in point: Several elected officials have asked the federal government to withdraw a permit for an Aug. 26 rally at San Francisco’s Crissy Field organized by Patriot Prayer, a Portland-based group of right-wing provocateurs. That is the exactly wrong approach. Denying permits in order to shut down speech that is offensive or so controversial that it might provoke a violent backlash is the act of an autocratic government.”

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