1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Splendid introduction to the debate on free speech,
This review is from: Free Speech: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) (Paperback)Warburton writes, "John Stuart Mill was explicit that incitement to violence was the point at which intervention to curb free speech was appropriate. Mere offensiveness wasn't sufficient grounds for intervention and should not be prevented by law, by threats, or by social pressure." "A spirit of toleration should not include a prohibition on causing offence." Times columnist Oliver Kamm agreed, "Free speech does indeed cause hurt - but there is nothing wrong in this."
As US Justice Brennan said in Texas v. Johnson, which upheld the right of dissenters to burn the US flag as a protest, "If there is a bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment, it is that the Government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable."
Virtually anything can be seen as offensive, and something that is both true and important is bound to offend somebody.
But in Britain today, it seems that we have the right to have free speech, as long as we don't use it. So members of the English Defence League are arrested and the group Muslims against Crusades is disbanded for saying things that some find offensive. But it is legitimate, if unjust and idiotic, to call for Sharia law here, and it is also legitimate, and just, to oppose Sharia law.
This government is trying to suppress dissent. It is expanding its police powers to control and limit expression, narrowing our rights of democratic participation.
The meanings of symbols like the poppy are in the realm of opinion and argument, so the state must not impose a politically correct interpretation on us. The state abused Remembrance Day, when poppy-sellers demanded that we stand `shoulder to shoulder' with the armed forces serving in the war against Afghanistan.
War demands consensus and recruitment of the media. We must resist the warmongering drive for conformity. Some may find it offensive to be told that that their country's armed forces are used not for national self-defence, not for any national interest, but for illegal aggression. But if the truth hurts us, then we must ask why.