Why Nazis must have freedom of speech

Why Nazis must have freedom of speech, by Brendan O’Neill.

Nazis must enjoy the same freedom of speech as everyone else.

1) Freedom of speech is indivisible or it does not exist

When you qualify free speech, you kill it. You turn it from a liberty into a privilege, a thing enjoyed only by those deemed ‘agreeable’ by the state or the moral majority. …

2) Okaying the censorship of Nazis would set a lethal precedent

Imbuing officialdom with the authority to silence certain political ideas is a recipe for dictatorship. If you think they will stop once they’ve extinguished the idea you don’t like, you need to improve your familiarity with history. …

3) Free speech for Nazis means free speech for you

Too many think that if you defend a group’s freedom to speak, you defend the group itself. Not so. …

4) Censoring Nazis would weaken public virtue

Censorship doesn’t only silence the individual who wants to get something off his chest — it also disempowers us, the potential audience to that speech. It deprives us of the right to hear and judge for ourselves. It infantilises us through absolving us of the responsibility to use our mental and moral muscles and instead allowing someone else to decide on our behalf that a certain idea is wicked or wrong. …

5) Censoring Nazis helps them more than it hurts them

Nothing is more likely to flatter the racialised self-pity and conspiracy-theory thinking of white nationalists than their being prevented from gathering or speaking in public. It would embolden their fantasy about being martyrs. …

6) Censoring racism demeans minority groups

One of the worst arguments for the censorship of the far right is that we must protect minority groups from feeling offended or unsafe. This infantilises ethnic minorities. It presents censorship as their friend and freedom of speech as their enemy. …

7) You cannot defeat Nazism by aping it

‘They would censor us, so let us censor them.’ This is the cry of many of those who would silence the far right. It is too ironic for words: in order to defeat Nazis we must act like Nazis would if they got the chance.