Seamanship Quotation

“In political activity, then, men sail a boundless and bottomless sea; there is neither harbour for shelter nor floor for anchorage, neither starting-place nor appointed destination.”
— from Michael Oakeshott's
Political Education” (1951)

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Poison Candy on Limiting Free Speech

“I would refer Mr. Coyne to the period in European history most notorious for its silencing of Jews, about six million of them in Germany from 1936-1945. The systematic murder of Jews--along with Communists, people of color, the mentally and physically challenged and homosexuals—began with a book, with pamphlets, with posters, which lead to actions, laws and concentration camps. The insidious nature of the enterprise began with words, which ‘range true’ in the minds of people who might not otherwise have begun to think in such ways.

“The through-line from hate speech to murder is not always as evident as the Nazis made it, but it’s there.”

—By Marc Cote, Toronto, in a letter replying to a column in the National Post by Andrew Coyne questioning a Supreme Court decision to further limit free speech in Canada.

Hell on earth began with a book?

Are we willing to risk the murder of millions merely to defend a liberal principle: the freedom to write, to publish, and to widely promote another very bad book? Fortunately, that historical proposition is dead wrong.

The terrible anomaly in Nazi Germany wasn’t the success of an especially nasty book by a popular politician. Europe was already awash with nasty books and pamphlets about Jews and other minorities, inspired, for instance, by the Christian Bible and Social Darwinism.
What was special about the 1930s was the early ability of one awesome national government to stop people from freely and persistently expressing their opposition—of rebutting, satirizing, and shaming a hateful book and its ridiculous author.  

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