Ezra Levant, professional tweaker of Canadian ethos that one has a right not to be offended, is promoting a conference on the right to offend. I wish I could go.
The title of the conference says it all: the right to offend. Free speech is meaningless if it applies only to inoffensive speech. The meaning of free speech is that it must be free from other things, including other admirable things, like good manners, political correctness, or the ideological fashions of the day. That's not to say there is no antidote to offensive speech. There are plenty, ranging from ignoring the offender, to rebutting him, to condemning him to socially ostracizing him. But none of those remedies involve the government and its unlimited power.
The last sentence makes it clear that Levant means free speech must be free from government-imposed manners and fashions, since of course trying to impose our manners and fashions upon others privately is simply part of the dance of free speech. As I've said before, the only thing more annoying than people who whine "why can't the government stop this speech that offends me" are people who whine "people calling me a bigot/asshole/idiot are violating my right to free speech."
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