Friday, November 7, 2014

#312 / Sticks And Stones

The Wall Street Journal ran an essay by John O'Sullivan in the November 1-2 edition of the paper. The essay focused on the issue of free speech, and is worth reading.

According to O'Sullivan, the free speech protections found in our Constitution are at risk, because democratic governments (the British government as well as the United States government is mentioned in the essay) are now actively trying to stop "hate speech." No matter how hateful "hate speech" may be, there really isn't  any way to stop hate speech without circumscribing a person's free speech rights. Being in favor of free speech means we have to be willing to suffer some "hate speech," too, the way O'Sullivan sees it.

The most persuasive evidence cited by O'Sullivan, in support of his thesis, actually relates to events and activities in Britain, but I personally appreciate a cautionary warning about possible threats to the First Amendment in this country.

My mother used to recite that "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me." With all deference to my Mom, words can hurt, no doubt about that, and they can motivate actions that are more than nominally hurtful, too. Nonetheless, as my mother taught me, I do tend to be a First Amendment absolutist, and I appreciate the "heads up" from O'Sullivan.

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