Friday, August 30, 2013

#242 / An Argument For Free Speech

I liked an article printed in the August 24, 2013 edition of The Wall Street Journal. The article was a book review, authored by Joshua Hawley, and titled "What Democracy Requires." The book reviewed, written by Thomas Healy, is titled The Great Dissent.

Author and reviewer disagree, somewhat, about the views of Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. on free speech. They don't disagree that Holmes believed that the law is nothing more than "the dominant opinion of society."

In other words, there is nothing inexorable or inevitable about our human laws. 

We can change them.


If we do have that ability, if we can change our laws at any time, to make our laws reflect the dominant opinion of society, then we need to be able to entertain the fullest debate possible on what we should do, and how we should change the laws. That's where the argument for free speech comes in. That is the basis for democracy itself. Free speech is what democracy requires.

Incidentally, this is the same reason that secrecy in government is intolerable and anti-democratic. Just in case you hadn't made the connection.

You can't have "free speech" if you don't know what is actually going on, because then you can't talk about it. You can't have democracy, either, if you don't know what your government is doing.

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