Well, hello again. Having ended last month's column with a candid appeal for readers to "talk back" about free speech, I was grateful to those who took me at my word. They made me think new thoughts, which is, of course, the whole idea.
Access to information (ATI) is animated by a simple principle: the public ought to know. Despite governments unfortunately tending towards secrecy and risk-aversion, a free flow of information is absolutely vital for democracy. ATI, then, is an important democratic safeguard, to mitigate the negative predilections of government and ensure a robust state of public discourse. ATI legislation first emerged in Sweden in 1766, but it wasn’t until the postwar era that it began to flourish in a number of other liberal democracies.
France’s obsession with depicting cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad is back in the news following the murder of middle school teacher, Samuel Paty last month for showing his students a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad from the French magazine Charlie Hebdo.
Following the gruesome murder by an 18 year old Russian immigrant, French President Emmanuel Macron called the incident “a typical Islamist terrorist attack” and praised Mr. Paty as the "face of the republic" and a person who "believed in knowledge."
In recent years, certain factions of the “socio-culturally aware” class have been sifting through history with the fine-toothed comb of 21st century moral superiority, snagging a host of prominent figures and indicting them for not meeting the rigorous standards of this particular moment (not year, or season, but moment, as the goalposts change by the minute). It doesn’t matter if the offender is Robert E.
Around the time the late US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was lying in state, my friend Farid reposted on Facebook a report headlined, “Accepting Israeli prize in 2018, RBG never mentioned Palestinians,” published by Mondoweis, a blog focused on Palestinian rights.
An easy mistake to make in any discussion of freedom of expression is to believe there is absolute certainty anywhere in the definition of that term. If you are jumping into a debate on free speech certain you know exactly what you believe (plus all the implications of that belief), chances are you’ve grossly over-estimated your own position. If you’re doing that on Twitter, either get your thumbs familiar with the block/mute functions, or free up a lot of time for an epic Twitter fight unlikely to solve anything for anyone.