Don't just defend free speech in rhetoric.


January 7th, 2015 was the day that shaped my philosophical life. That was the day when two Jihadists murdered twelve people in Paris for saying the wrong thing and drawing the wrong picture.

I was thrown into a spiral. I couldn't hold the simple libertarian view that free speech stops at the First Amendment. I had to stop lying to myself that culture wasn't all that important of a component in regard to liberty. I had to face the fact that the fight for the foundational value of a liberal society needs to be engaged from the bottom up.

In the last six and a half years, it's also become clear how alone I am on this issue. Even "libertarians" have made arguments for privatizing all colleges for the expressed reason that they would no longer be bound by the First Amendment. Namely, even these "libertarians" are trying to find ways around the law in order to abridge free speech. Self-proclaimed liberals have become the most vocal opponents of the most basic and foundational of liberal values. Conservatives defend free speech in rhetoric but turn their backs on the principle the moment that profanity or pornography is involved.

I think that I can count on both hands the people who will stand with me in defense of free speech. Now that we know that even the ACLU is calling for the banning of books, I'm sure that I'd fill a hard drive with names of people who would only defend free speech on a skin-deep level and turn against it the moment that the speech in question became inconvenient or offensive.

Yes, I feel like I'm alone. I'm at least almost alone in this fight. Even people who agree with me will commonly only do-so in private.

I'm also right. No majority can change the fact that I'm right on this one issue.

Free speech, as Brendan O'Neill said, is the motor of human progress. If you want to stop that motor, you'll have to deal with me until the day I die. I don't care if I have nobody at my side.

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