Free speech: The rules

I am trying to negotiate the rules are on free speech. Obviously that’s assuming that there are rules (you’d really think there shouldn’t be, what with said speech being “free”, but I don’t think that’s how it works). Because I am morally immature (liberal, feminist, atheist) I can’t do this on my own, so I’m using Cristina Odone’s response to Nick Clegg’s same-sex marriage “bigot” gaffe to help me.

This is what I’ve been able to work out so far (if you are similarly immature in terms of moral development, please pay attention – it’s perhaps more complicated than you’d think):

When “liberals” say stuff

People who are liberal have the nerve to think that they are right about stuff and to say so. This is arrogant and wrong. I mean, you’d think it was better than indulging in complete moral relativism and thinking no one was right about anything (liberals are simultaneously guilty of this), but still, there’s something particularly offensive about the idea that “only the liberal elite possesses the Truth”:

The rest are prejudiced fools fuelled by unworthy and outdated values. Worst of all, some of these values hail from – sin of all sins – religious principles. In this way, liberals can take a swipe at everyone who opposes their most cherished principles.

This can lead to all sorts of grave misdeeds (such as bigots being called bigots. Or not, if you’re a liberal who also happens to be a political weed). Liberals seem to think that if they believe another person’s beliefs are wrong and harm others, they ought to be free to point it out. This is of course a nonsense. As Odone points out, “it’s a playground bully mentality”. The honorable thing to do (providing one is a liberal) is not to ever call hatred and bigotry by its real name i.e. to shut up in the name of freedom.

When people of “the Right” say stuff

People of the Right have the nerve to think they are right about stuff and to say so. This is perfectly fine. After all, it’s better than indulging in complete moral relativism and thinking no one is right about anything, which, as we mentioned above, is what liberals do all the time (apart from when they think they’re right about stuff, and therefore become arrogant and wrong).

Some of the values held by the Right hail from “- sin of all sins – religious principles”. This means they’re not remotely dogmatic or cruel and would never, ever lead to them “taking a swipe” at anyone “who opposes their most cherished principles” (unless they are provoked, say, by someone wanting to marry their same-sex partner, an act of such flagrant prejudice it doesn’t even bear thinking about).

The Right no longer go in “for name calling”. They’d never, for instance, end a piece about being immature and offensive with “Nick Clegg, grow up”. Oh no, hang on, they would. But that’s only because they’re right (the clue’s in the name).


I think I have it all sorted now. But alas, I’m still hopelessly morally immature. Cristina Odone, I think you’re a bigot. Now why don’t you grow up?


2 thoughts on “Free speech: The rules

  1. Great post. The notion of freedom of speech was born out of a need to let the voice of the oppressed be heard. These days, it has been completely appropriated by the bullies, who cry “freedom of speech!” when genuinely oppressed minorities call them out for their oppressive behaviour. Very sad.

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