Why Professor Jeremy Waldron is Wrong in His Desire to Censor Speech

Arguments for limiting freedom of speech are being heard in America, and some advocate adopting a more European model, the kind that recently resulted in that outspoken French xenophobe Bridgette Bardot being fined over $20,000.00 in France because she dared to criticize an Islamic sheep-killing ceremony.

An American "legal philosopher" quoted recently in the NY Times, Professor Jeremy Waldron, believes American laws and courts should be in the business of fining and punishing Americans for speech that doesn't show "respect." In the NY Review of Books last month, Professor Jeremy Waldron said, "It is not clear to me the Europeans are mistaken when they say that a liberal democracy must take affirmative responsibility for protecting the atmosphere of mutual respect against certain forms of vicious attack."

The problem, of course, is how to define emotional flashpoint terms like "vicious" ... And whose opinion do you accept? If a judge comes under political or social pressure, he will strike the gavel and fine Bridgette Bardot tens of thousands for "recklessly offending" the Islamic culture with her "hate speech." But are we assured that punitive actions will always be fair and balanced? Of course not. Imagine the media in America being fined heavily or editors jailed for criticizing the Catholic Church for coddling guilty pedophiles.

Perhaps, if Jeremy had his way, I would already be in prison?

Therefore, we're back to the good old American model. Debate and disagreement in a public forum of ideas, in the open. Isn't that a much more effective way of diluting and defying hate speech than any attempt to impose government censorship? I ask you.

Censorship only creates smoldering resentment and martyrs for a cause. Bardot is one of them.

Are you listening, Professor?

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