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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 10/14/12

Various Items: Free Speech v "Community," Lawlessness In Libya, Sprawling Surveillance State

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Cross-posted from The Guardian


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Libyan efforts to arrest the killers of a man credited with capturing Ghaddafi have turned into a siege of the city of Bani Walid. (Photograph: Mahmud Turkia/AFP/Getty Images)

(updated below)

Extensive travel will likely prevent me from writing much this weekend, but there are several brief items worthy of note:

(1) In Sunday's Washington Post, law professor Jonathan Turley has a superb Op-Ed on the gradual death of free speech in the west, and he places the blame squarely where it belongs: on the veneration of "sensitivities" over the free flow of ideas, and relatedly, the adolescent need on the part of many adults to plead with authority figures to shield them from views they find offensive. His essay is well worth reading in full, but here is the crux:

"Free speech is dying in the western world. While most people still enjoy considerable freedom of expression, this right, once a near-absolute, has become less defined and less dependable for those espousing controversial social, political or religious views. The decline of free speech has come not from any single blow but rather from thousands of paper cuts of well-intentioned exceptions designed to maintain social harmony. . . .

"Of course, free speech is often precisely about pissing off other people -- challenging social taboos or political values. . . .

"Such efforts focus not on the right to speak but on the possible reaction to speech -- a fundamental change in the treatment of free speech in the West. The much-misconstrued statement of Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes that free speech does not give you the right to shout fire in a crowded theater is now being used to curtail speech that might provoke a violence-prone minority. Our entire society is being treated as a crowded theater, and talking about whole subjects is now akin to shouting 'fire!' . . . .

"The very right that laid the foundation for western civilization is increasingly viewed as a nuisance, if not a threat. Whether speech is deemed inflammatory or hateful or discriminatory or simply false, society is denying speech rights in the name of tolerance, enforcing mutual respect through categorical censorship.

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