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Free Speech For Me, But Not For Thee

Here’s a great op-ed in the WSJ by Bret Stephens, explaining the hypocrisy of “liberals” on the issue of free-speech:

For liberals, the issue is straightforward. If routine mockery of Christianity and abuse of its symbols, both in the U.S. and Europe, is protected speech, why shouldn’t the same standard apply to the mockery of Islam? And if the difference in these cases is that mockery of Islam has the tendency to lead to riots, death threats and murder, should committed Christians now seek a kind of parity with Islamists by resorting to violent tactics to express their sense of religious injury? The notion that liberals can have it both ways — champions of free speech on the one hand; defenders of multiculturalism’s assorted sensitivities on the other — was always intellectually flimsy. If liberals now want to speak for the “right” of this or that group not to be offended, the least they can do is stop calling themselves “liberals.”


In criticizing religious conservatives (what he calls “cultural conservatives”), he adds:



Western civilization is not simply the “Judeo-Christian tradition.” It is also the civilization of Socrates and Aristophanes, Hume and Voltaire, Copernicus and Darwin; of religious schismatics and nonbelievers. This is the civilization that is now required to define itself, oddly enough, by the case of a flamboyant Dutch politician with inconsistent ideas and a bouffant hairdo. If he can’t be defended, neither can Mr. Rushdie. Or Mr. Serrano. Liberals and conservatives alike, take note. [Geert Wilders Is a Test for Western Civilization, WSJ, February 17, 2009]

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