October 29, 2007

"...a long history of acrobatic hermeneutics somewhere in the vague area of free speech..."

I am sure the august academics in this Crooked Timber thread on how true freedom of expression requires the suppression of certain undesirable sentiments have their hearts in the right place. Like them, I am generally opposed to undesirable sentiments, by definition.

Yet after reading the post and all the comments, particularly those casting scorn on the apparently outmoded, stuck-in-the-Eighteenth-Century American understanding of free speech, all I can say, nevertheless, is: thank God we have a First Amendment around here, in the end.

Posted by Dr. Frank at October 29, 2007 11:00 PM | TrackBack

Did you like the "...Zionist concern troll right out of the last years of the Raj."? Did you have the foggiest idea what it meant?

The fun thing about that post (or indeed any Crooked Timber post) is that it's a perfect microcosm of how certain people would like the world to work: we've chewed the topic over thoroughly, analyzed the nuances of its texture and flavor and examined the molecular structure of the remaining mush, and now we're done. A conclusion?? What's the point, old boy? We've done the important part.

Posted by: Angie Schultz at October 30, 2007 05:20 PM

Wow. That was awful. Our collective conversation? Is this a genuine belief or a post hoc rationalization. "Our conversation" even if you viewed all speech (stupidly) as a single unit of conversation, this conversation doesn't exactly respect political borders.

Some people just don't get it. Just because we live in a democracy, you still need to demonstrate why a decision by a unitary majority should be allowed to overrule the decision of the individual. Even from a utilitarian consequentialist perspective, you have to at least justify why this wold lead to a better outcome. They do try, but really these folks need to familiarize themselves with Arrow's theorem before they get too confident.

I don't believe in natural rights, per se, but what exactly is proposed as an alternative to my rights stop where the other guy's start. I mean, its an is/ought problem, but certainly my rights OUGHT to extend at least to the other guy whether or not they do in any Platonic sense). What's the point of having empty right space?

In truth, everybody does at least intuitively recognize that individuals do have rights. This is why almost all decision-making bodies require various kinds of super-majorities for certain decisions and nobody want to vote on a national lunch menu for Thursdays.

I'll echo you in saying thank goodness this country was founded at probably the only time and place in history, where the people overthrowing the government were enlightened enough to place restrictions on their own power and to leave those restriction for posterity. (I give the Bill of Rights 75 more years before at least one Amendment is officially gone.)

Posted by: josh at October 30, 2007 08:23 PM