Thomas Jefferson once wrote that truth “has nothing to fear from” conflict.
But the truth will not prevail in a world that prevents the conflict of ideas by suppressing speech.
..Hate speech has been used to punish and exclude people for hundreds of years (including recently in France). It has been free speech – a reliable friend to minorities – that has stood firm to protect them and their views.
As a society, we must be careful not to destroy one right in pursuit of the protection of another. As Noam Chomsky wrote:
“It is a truism, hardly deserving discussion, that the defence of the right of free expression is not restricted to ideas one approves of, and that it is precisely in the case of ideas found most offensive that these rights must be most vigorously defended.”
Censorship or punishment of hate speech often leads to repression of free speech – the equivalent of spraying the weeds and hitting the surrounding green grass. It breeds fear, conformity and reduces debate and discussion.
By contrast, freedom of speech is an enabler of other rights – social and economic as well as cultural and educational. Indeed, the history of human development of thought and creativity is the history of free thought and expression.
Freedom of speech is a prerequisite and a facilitator – a foundation and cornerstone of a democratic civil society. Arguably, it’s one of the most important discussions that a society can have: Freedom of expression is the basis of many other civil rights. However, protecting freedom of speech means that you have to accept the right of people to say hateful things.
” freedom of speech could be considered to be “the most important cornerstone of a liberal democracy”.Justice Muir
“Without it you have no rule of law, you have nothing else,”