[pp.int.general] freedom of speech
r.bakels at planet.nl
Fri Jan 9 23:13:16 CET 2009
Perhaps an excellent example of the ambiguity of human rights is the debat about the "freedom of speech". Right-wing politicians claim this freedom to say very unpleasant things about religious and ethnic groups, and then want the government to pay their protection: Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Some even construe this right as the "right to offend".
Don't get me wrong. I fully support the idea that anything can be said about (the substance of) government policy. Attacking people, and groups of people as such imho is not permissible.
Also the mistake is often made that social norms are confused with legal norms. The "freedom of speech" basically means that the government should not normally interfere. But there are other norms, social norms of civilisation and decency. Thus the right to offend is pretty nonsensical. Again, all policy *substance* may be attacked.
In sum, the "freedom of speech" has been hijacked by rigyht-wing politicians, so one should be careful to invoke it (under its name).
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