Thursday, September 7, 2017

The freedom to hear what people have to say

Excellent article by Andrew Potter on free speech that tells us that the real importance of free speech is not so much the freedom to speak (though that is important), but the freedom to hear what others say:
"...We got here because the problem is with the way we framed the question, as a debate over the benefits of free speech and the consequences we are willing to tolerate. Instead, what we should be focused on is the right of people to hear what others have to say, and how this fits into a broader account of individual freedom.
What’s the difference? If you turn the free speech debate on its head and treat it as a right to hear what someone has to say, the constitutional rationale for it becomes a lot clearer: The right to hear or read something and judge its worth or merit for yourself is the basis for being treated as an equal, rational and autonomous agent. We shield things from children precisely because we don’t think their rational faculties are sufficiently well developed. They don’t know how to evaluate something by their own lights. That’s why a big part of parenting is bringing kids along the path to autonomy, teaching them to judge and think for themselves.
Hearing what people have to say and judging its merits for yourself is the mark of being an adult. And part of being an adult is having the right to make mistakes, to make bad judgments or decisions, and take responsibility for what follows. 
It just so happens that a society made up of autonomous individuals making independent rational judgments about what others have to say is the basic condition for the possibility of a liberal democracy. The fact that so many people, on the right and the left, are willing to have their right to hear limited by governments, universities or even social media mobs, is a further sign of the relentless infantilization of our culture — and goes a long way toward explaining the current crisis of liberalism."
This was the core issue with our charter challenge. Our pro-abortion government under Kathleen Wynne, didn't want pro-life people like myself to discuss anything related to abortion in Ontario. Like numbers of abortions, policies about abortion, etc.

They wanted to shut us down and changing the law seemed like a genius and simple way to do it. Their logic--though they would never admit to this--was that if we don't have the information then we can't talk about it. So they made up specious reasons about safety which were ultimately shot down by the facts and actual logic.

In the end their tactics were neither genius nor simple.

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