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Saturday, July 14, 2018

Should there be any limits to free speech?

BBC Radio 4 - The Public Philosopher, Global Philosopher: Should there be any limits to free speech?

"[On flag burning] It's important to understand that it's because of that sacrifice that you really understand the meaning of freedom. For Pakistan, I know, I have the generation, the people that fought for the country. What if like that is the only way you can really show that that's not what the sacrifice was for. What you're actually showing solidarity with the people that did sacrifice by burning that flag, by showing we don't believe in this flag now. It was raised for the right reasons, but now it's being used for the wrong reasons. This flag is now not the right and doesn't hold the right meaning anymore. So now we're burning it, now it's representing the wrong thing...

[Korean girl] 'Limits or censorship based on other people's perceived sensitivity reflects a disturbingly fashionable therapeutic culture, because I believe people can face reality and this. And people are strong and resilient. But these days it seems like safety has been watered down to essentially mean the right to always feel comfortable when I believe that offending somebody and being offended is the core of free speech. Because truth emerges from the clash of ideas and vigorous debates'...

[Western girl] 'There's been research that shows that enduring microaggressions on a daily basis and having to hear that you're... like I was saying before, humanity is being undermined, that is a kind of violence that takes a toll and does damage to people and groups of people. It isn't so much that everyone is just sensitive and coddling, and this sort of sticks and stones may break my bones is not valid here. It genuinely does, words can cause a great deal of psychological harm'...

[Korean girl] 'Copernicus gave offence to religion and science by challenging the position of the sun and the earth. Martin Luther King gave offence to US society and norms by challenging racism. And woman are giving offence to a male dominating society by challenging inequality. And when you say protection, you assume that the people are weak and cannot defend themselves, but shielding woman from misogyny or shielding ethnic minorities from racism, isn't that patronalistic rather than being progressive?'...

[Vancouver guy] I'm absolutely shocked because I feel that academic discussion gets in the way of reality and truth. And if Marian [sp?] is on a subway in Somalia and someone shouts at her for the head garment that she is wearing, that is not helpful, Kyung from South Korea, that is not leading to her to feel empowered, that is not discourse, that is hate speech. And that is disgusting. Do not say what Martin Luther King said when he was protesting for his rights was hate speech. Because what we are discussing is if a person should be able to degrade someone on their ethnicity, on their sexuality, on the way that they look. And I believe that what Mary on chooses to wear because of the color of her skin should never be a reason to put hate speech against her...

[Korean girl] What I'm worried about is that the government might use the ambiguity of the term, false or offensive or hate for their political reasons. And that's really scary because I believe that's the beginning of censorship and the beginning of censorship might lead it to the beginning of tyranny...

One person said that universities are safe zones, and I am quite disappointed that people do not know the meaning of universities. Universities are the opposite of safe sense. You go there to express yourself, to be able to hear other people express themselves, to be able to open your mind to new ideas. They are not safe zones...

Thomas Jefferson, one of the great theorists and proponents of freedom of speech and of conscience put it this way. He said, it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are 20 gods or no gods. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg. And yet many regimes that suppress dissent and censor opinion take speech very seriously. The censor, you might say, pays a certain homage to the power of speech that liberals sometimes miss"
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