First a word from Danish Jyllands-Posten, Flemming rose when he visited Helsinki to deliver a timely speech, on free speech, in a live address on Finnish state TV, YLE.
And freedom doesn’t make sense if it doesn’t imply a wide understanding of tolerance of opinions that we may despise and dislike. So the relationship between tolerance and freedom is one key concept that we have to reeducate ourselves about.
The other misunderstanding I believe, is about the relationship between words and deeds.
Many people today believe that, you know, words can be as violent and hurtful as deeds, and I agree that words can be hurtful, and words can incite from time to time, but if you look at history and the development of free speech, and the fight against censorship, the key distinction was the establishing of a distinction between words and deeds.
If you look at the key difference between free societies and un-free societies, it is exactly that free societies are characterized by clear distinction between words and deeds. It’s why dictatorships and un-free societies they erode that distinction.
In a dictatorship words are being perceived as if they were actions and therefore dissidents and critical voices are being silenced with reference to the fact that they are a threat to the peace of the public order, and so on and so forth. So by equating evil words and evil deeds we are in a way moving back to the time before the Middle Ages, in Europe where people were being burned at the stake for saying critical things about the Church, about God, about people of other faiths, and I don’t think that’s where we would like to go. I think that this is happening because it has become very popular to play the grievance card, that people think that they do have a right not to be offended. I will come back to that in a moment and explain why I think that is problematic, although I’m not in favor of going, you know, walking around and offending people all of the time. That’s not the point, it’s a matter of principle in a multicultural world.
But I think the only right we should not have in a democracy, is the right not to be offended. That is the right, that is the price we have to pay for enjoying all the benefits and good things of a democracy.
Unfortunately today, many politicians think that the best way to save the social peace is by putting new limitations on speech. Especially during the current situation in Europe, my concern is that politicians will react to this growing influx of asylum seekers, refugees and migrants, and will be putting new limitations on speech.
Now watch this segment on the Carl Tucker show with a leftist professor who basically is calling for a banning of speech he disagrees with, but couches it in disingenuous language: