The Virtues of Free Speech

Michael A. Sherlock (Author)

Free speech must include the right to offend. Granted, there are limitations upon free speech which do serve valuable and necessary functions – such as the prohibition against incitement to violence, or the prohibition concerning the deliberate causing of a panic that would likely result in imminent injury, etc – yet such limitations are not a valid basis for arguments that seek to increase restrictions on free speech. Put simply, the existence of common-sense limitations on free speech in no way testify to the alleged benefits of restricting speech that offends or hurts people’s feelings. Feelings should never be placed above fundamental human rights, particularly when the human right in question is the primary mechanism by which societies and cultures progress. George Bernard Shaw penned upon the lips of one of his fictional characters, “All great truths begin as blasphemies”. The validity of this noble and enlightened sentiment has been…

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