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A short thought on freedom of speech

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I’ve seen this remarked on at a few sites. I must say, the choice of the words “peace in our time” were perhaps not that well-chosen, but then I doubt whether the majority of people attending the march were thinking they would become easy targets for warbloggers armed with Neville Chamberlain pictures. I’m more irritated, though, by this:

I read this, and I don’t even know what to say.
So I’ll say nothing, and will get back to my homework, reading about WWII, wondering just what in the hell is wrong with humanity.

Yeah, imagine that, people exercising their democratic right to express their political opinion, especially when that political opinion is in opposition to official policy. How dare they be so presumptuous. I don’t know, though, I was under the impression that this war thing was at least partly about establishing the superiority of democracy and that part of the superiority of democracy lay in the fact that people have the right to openly express their political views even when they’re contrary to the official line, as opposed to totalitarian and backward regimes like Iraq where dissent is crushed.

Funny, isn’t it, how people supposedly in favour of democracy often seem to forget that democracy entails also permitting people to speak who disagree with you as well as ones who agree with you. Interesting, too, how Instareynolds gets gleeful when Iranian students protest against the ruling clergy there but calls bullshit on peace protesters in the West. Being contrarian is apparently OK as long as in being contrarian you agree with us.

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About James Russell

  • James, we have as much right to call bullshit on peace protesters here. They can call people like me bloodthirsty imperialists, I can call them lamebrained morons.

    Protesting, in and of itself, is a morally neutral act. It’s protected by the Constitution (as well it should be), but that does not make it above reproach nor does it make those that march necessarily brave, thoughtful, or correct.

    The protesters in Iran are risking their lives in favor of freedom. That gains my respect. The protesters of the war in Iraq don’t have to risk their lives to take to the streets (and, ironically, call Bush a fascist while standing arm-in-arm with ANSWER).

  • Eric Olsen

    James, Though there is plenty of hypocrisy in every political direction on this matter – “free speech for me but not for thee” – your observations are important and totally legitimate.