Free Speech’s Emboldened Enemies

Free Speech’s Emboldened Enemies, by Anthony Daniels.

At a recent literary festival it was not enough for those who disagreed with a fellow speaker merely to protest her words and sentiments. Rather, they assaulted patrons and filled the air with threats and menaces while the police, as usual, did nothing. Free speech, it seems, is now a public nuisance.

It is difficult to estimate the strength of the tide against free speech in the Western world … Those who wish to restrict it are a good deal more active and passionate, though not necessarily more numerous, than are those who want to defend it.

In a world of monomaniacs, the reasonably balanced man, the man who sees the world as “so various, so beautiful, so new”, is at a perpetual disadvantage, engaged as he is on asymmetric (and boring) warfare against the fanatics of the latest mad orthodoxy.

Our current monomania is that of transsexualism which, as with all modern monomanias, is like the dawn that comes up like thunder outer Berkeley ’crost the Bay. Yesterday, for example, I read in the Times that the National Association of Head Teachers in Britain has issued “guidance” (the kind that communist dictators used to issue when they visited locomotive repair workshops or sausage factories, their words of wisdom on every subject being taken down by scribes), to the effect that there should be books in all schools for children under the age of eleven about “transgender” parents, and that “trans people, their issues and experiences”, should be “celebrated across the school”.

Climate change, as always, figures highly:

The second experience was in a way more alarming because it concerned younger, well-behaved, polite and intelligent children aged about sixteen or seventeen. … It was clear to me from the questions that followed that the children had very little notion of what freedom actually was or what it entailed.

For example, could it be right to allow climate-deniers to spread their falsehood and lies? The question begs many questions, of course: it assumes that it is beyond reasonable doubt that the globe is warming, that the warming is caused by man’s activities, that the warming is a wholly harmful phenomenon and that there is only one possible solution to it. I am insufficiently knowledgeable to pronounce on these questions and have heard eminent people whom I respect and whose integrity I have no grounds for doubting argue for very different conclusions.

hat-tip Stephen Neil