If there's a measuring device for asinine fatuity, it must emit thick and bitter smoke whenever someone starts talking about "necessary restriction on freedom of expression". Take the following from these pages: "When people of this latter variety [the unquestioning believer] are offended, they don't mean that they dislike your views or think that, theoretically, you are morally in the wrong, but that the very essence of who they are has been shaken." Exactly. If someone's "sense of identity" cannot survive argument, then it should be discarded. I've spent some time jousting with the intellectualoids of Europe's neo-fascist movements, and one thing that always comes up is that immigration is doing 'irretrievable damage' to white European identity.
There is some value here: namely in showing the bankruptcy of utilitarianism. Arguments of this kidney are always full of "we" and "us" and what "society" and "the community" should permit, and "how much" freedom is 'good for society'. Isabel Paterson rightly wrote that this defence of freedom is worthless, as there will always be someone who argues that restricting and abolishing freedom is "good for society". When the fatwa against Rushdie was issued, the murderous goons self-pitying whine was that Rushdie had "offended" the Islamic community. When the Shiv Sena decided to get themselves a piece of sectarian action and hound India's greatest artist, M.F. Husain, out of the country and into hiding, they similarly griped that the Hindu Community was "offended". All of these were cases of the individual against 'the community', and all of these illustrate the truth that moral and intellectually maturity consists in being able to say "the community can go hang".
The key point about freedom of speech is that in defending it, you are not defending the other guy's right to speak, but your own right to hear. I invite the reader to ask themselves what person, known to them personally, or by reputation, living or dead, anywhere on the surface of this orb, or throughout the swathe of human history, would they give the power over them to decide what they could and could not read, were allowed and were not allowed to hear?
This also shows up a common fallacy. Defending freedom of expression, one finds oneself every so often defending scoundrels, and one is then confronted by something like, "So, how do you feel in defending the BNP?". In such a situation, I am doing no such thing; I am defending my own right to know what the real views of such people are.
On Sunday I attended the One Law For All's protest in defence of freedom of expression and was too depressed for words when I heard speakers saying that the lessons of the Holocaust and Rwanda meant, of course, they recognize that there must be "limits". The slight problem is that such limits, in the case of Rwanda, were used against those warning of what was planned, and in the case of the Nazis, they firstly made Hitler's cronies into martyrs, secondly forced them to sanitize their image to the point that they became electable, and thirdly, provided the weapon they used to destroy all opposition.
So, to make this simple: I intend to say whatever I want, no matter what anyone else thinks. If anyone wants to shut me up, they need to understand that nothing short of death will work. If they want to go that far they are free to try, and quit hiding behind euphemistic drivel.
Do I have responsibilities when I exercise my rights? Of course. I have responsibilities that my words are not misunderstood, that they are not used by those I hold as morally vile, that I do not needlessly hurt anyone, or present anything I know to be false - the list goes on. But those are the responsibilities of dealing with rational being by means of reason. Force and reason are opposites. The only responsibility that I, or any free-thinking member of my species has to anyone who wishes to use force to silence speech, is to quote the words of the late Oriana Fallaci: "You go fuck yourself. I say what I want."
Hugo Schmidt is a postgraduate at the Department of Biochemistry