Nothing exercises the Libertarian sense of impending moral outrage so much as those two little words ‘Free Speech’. It is said by some to be the very definition of Libertarianism.
I consider myself to be a Libertarian; I believe that I possess a free will and that I should be free to do whatever I wish with my person and my property without state intervention, and I extend to others the same ability to do as they wish with their persons and their property.
However, there are some who would describe themselves as Libertarian who maintain that it is an ideological freedom of thought and speech which means that they can say whatever they want, wherever they want, about whomever they want. Indeed, I am oft amused by a pair of camp hysterics who whinny piteously whenever my name is mentioned, so offended are they by my refusal to abide by ‘their‘ rules of Libertarianism – surely an oxymoron, but one that they are happy to expound on to anyone silly enough to listen to them, the end result of which is an increase in visitors to my blog every time they sound off, so I shan’t complain!
Free Speech is rather like Free Love, a utopian ideal that is fine for the hale and hearty, but has a nasty tendancy to damage the frail and the feeble at its outer edges. One only has to bring rape, incest or paedophilia into the equation to realise that Free Love must actually have limits, and those limits are the points at which either other people become damaged or become involved not of their free will. So it is with Free Speech.
Dick Puddlecote invoked the memory of Amaral’s Video on the McCann saga, and suggested that the Italian legislation proposed would mean that the ‘blogosphere would cease to be able to provide a small guy with the means to highlight corruption/hypocrisy/mendacity and any other wrongdoing, by someone who has a bigger bank account and/or a decent solicitor’ . Well I disagree Dick – it would mean that he would have to apologise after 48 hours if he had got his facts wrong/was not able to prove his facts, not that he would be silenced in the first place.
I see no reason why I should not be expected to issue an apology or even a retraction if I have got something wrong nor any reason, more importantly, why I should expect to be some sort of ’sacred cow’ that is allowed to say or do anything I like simply because this is the blogosphere.
I don’t demand the ability to hurt others as the price of my Libertarianism.
(Some of your knees must be tired jerking at this point – would you like a short rest whilst I digress?)
Dick brought up the McCann saga, so having just achieved 14 days without nicotine, I’m just mad enough now to howl at the moon or even brook discussion of the affair once more, despite having sworn never to do so again.
In the last few days, a motley gang of exponents of Free Speech, having tired of talking amongst themselves (and this group expressly excludes anybody who doesn’t believe that Madeleine McCann died in apartment 5a and that her parents are culpable in some way – so much for free speech!) has broken free of the blogosphere, and under cover of darkness, sloped off to the one place that you might have thought better informed on the Madeleine saga than anywhere else – and under the pretext of ‘enlightening’ those who might disagree with them, have been posting leaflets listing the reasons why they believe the parents culpable, to all their neighbours in the small village of Rothley.
That is stalking dangerously close to vigilantism, or the free speech version of rape.
Amaral’s video listed the various avenues which had been explored by the police and showed some of the evidence they had discovered – evidence that was not sufficient to charge the parents with any crime. I see no reason why that should not be discussed. I see no reason why the case should not be discussed. But I can see a million reasons why people who have decided that they are more swayed by the ‘insufficient evidence’ than the parent’s protestations of innocence, should be prevented from provocatively scurrying round the neighbours, in the twilight, delivering written ‘proof’ of the parents guilt – to the parents of the McCann twin’s school friends.
That is where an absolute defence of free speech can lead – and is why I cannot support it. The vulnerable have to have some protection from the harm that words can do.
OK, Knees, by the right, Quick Jerk……..