The first point is this: we're damned lucky in the West. Even the most grotesque abuses of government power to suppress speech, either here or in neighboring countries like Canada, pale next to the sort of suppression of speech, conscience, and worship that other people in the world suffer. That's not a call to put up with more censorship without complaint here — it's a call to care about what happens there.
The second point is this: government is merely the instrument of censorship, not the font of censorship itself. Yes, government power is seductive and wants to be abused. Yes, governments have an ingrained culture that encourages micromanagement of all sorts, including censorious micromanagement of expression. But ultimately we have met the enemy of freedom of expression and it is us — the people. Taseer was not murdered by the government — he was murdered by a faction of citizens who wanted the government to censor its citizens more vigorously. In the West, most government efforts at censorship have a constituency, a group that is outraged that someone else is talking in a way that offends them. These people are everywhere, and it's the task of free speech advocates to identify them, call them out, and shame them to the extent they have the capacity for shame. Citizen advocates of censorship are enemies and underminers of all that makes us mighty.
Last 5 posts by Ken White
- Free Speech Triumphant Or Free Speech In Retreat? - June 21st, 2017
- The Power To Generate Crimes Rather Than Merely Investigate Them - June 19th, 2017
- Free Speech, The Goose, And The Gander - June 17th, 2017
- Free Speech Tropes In The LA Times - June 8th, 2017
- I write letters - June 1st, 2017