Free speech, but only when it suits our needs

free speechFollowing up on last week's post on whether society can be tolerant of the intolerant, I wanted to point out some of the language being used on the left to justify limiting freedom of speech. The American Humanist Association issued a press release late last week saying it is "wary" of the Georgia Tech free speech lawsuit. Founded in 1941, the association stands for, among other issues, population control, human rights, sexual equality, civil liberties and alternative technologies. It has given Kurt Vonnegut, Ted Turner and Carl Sagan its Humanist of the Year award.

With that short introduction, here is the language of the left, beginning with a remark by the association's executive director:

"Of course we Humanists are strongly in support of the right to free speech," concluded [Roy] Speckhardt. "But we draw the line when -- in the special learning environment of the campus -- it infringes on the rights of others to receive an education without fear of persecution for their beliefs and sexual orientation."

There are clear limits on free speech, such as shouting fire in a crowded theatre. In my humble opinion, Ruth Malhotra's attempt to speak out against something she disagrees with fails to meet that standard. It may be offensive to some (or many, which doesn't matter), but that does not mean she does not have the right to have those opinions and to share them.

In covering these stories it'll be interesting to see if journalists pick up on that distinction. It's clear enough in my opinion. The message from the left is "We only support free speech when it agrees with what we believe."

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