Friday, May 31, 2013

Does freedom of speech include a right not to be criticized?

Jason Kuznicki offers one take on this perennial problem.  It might be worth noting that Kuznicki works at the right-wing Cato Institute ... but Cato's brand of right-wingery is the type that styles itself "libertarian"—which in this context means free-market fundamentalism combined (in genuinely principled cases) with commitment to individual choice and civil liberties.  I mention that only to highlight the fact that there are different ideological currents on the right, and some of them are quite un-conservative.  But wherever you're coming from ideologically, you can make what you will of this little quasi-parable.  I think it's smart and basically right.

—Jeff Weintraub

The League of Ordinary Gentlemen
By Jason Kuznicki on May 21, 2003

“I demand freedom of thought!”


“I think your marriage is a joke. A marriage of two men is like a marriage of a toaster and a blender.”


“You mean you disagree?”

“Yes, I disagree.”

“What do you have against freedom of thought?”

“Nothing. I just think you’re a bigot. That’s all.”

“You what??? I… I don’t like that you think that!

“I noticed.”

“You’re trying to go all thought-police on me, aren’t you?”

“No. I just think you’re a bigot.”

“Oh yeah? What are you going to do about it?”


“Look, not long ago everyone thought like me. I’m not so strange.”

“I didn’t say you were strange.”

“Do you think they’re all bigots, too?”


“I don’t like that you think that way.”

“I noticed.”

“But things have changed so fast.

“Yes. Yes they have.”

Jason Kuznicki is a research fellow at the Cato Institute and editor of Cato Unbound. He's on twitter as JasonKuznicki. His interests include political theory and history.