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Free Speech

The speech is from a debate at Hart House, University of Toronto. Hitchens speech is in favor of decriminalizing hate speech, that free speech must include hate speech. A big thanks to Scott T. Don't like Quicktime you have options.




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Comments

Wow. That had so many great points I need to rewatch it and take notes. Thanks for posting this speech.

Hitchens needs to take his meds every day so he can always make this much sense. If it's not a medical condition, he must be a failed misanthrope who loves to piss off the people he most agrees with, but can't always muster the energy to be a complete asshole.

It seems Hitchens is making NORMative statements. Get it? Norm-ative? Drum roll and cymbal

Ok ok, bad joke.

What I do have to say is that, out of all the shit talkers, FOX News should be the frontrunners in opposition to such an amendment, don't you think? As well as, known lesbian, Ann Coulter! I try to refrain from personal attacks, but never would I bar others from doing so. How else will I satisfy my craving for ass-whoppin'? ;)

P.S. In the name of the First Amendment right of the Constitution of the United States of America: FUCK BUSH!

I'm not a good enough legal historian to know if this has ever been the case but has anyone ever thought of more ceative legal challanges to criminal hate speech laws? Hitchens has a point when he says that hate speech laws are double bladed swords. If religious fanatics want to push for hate speech laws and they can't be taken down in a legal challange then it's only fitting they be used on the very swine that pushed for them in the first place.

Hitchens has been so wrong on so many things that I wouldn’t care to take his word for it if he screamed fire in a theater that I could see with my own eyes was in fact burning down around me. He was one of the biggest cheerleaders for the war in Iraq and had little patience and a great deal of condescension for anyone who wasn’t on board with his chickenhawk views. Sorry Christopher, you lost me right when you said “National Review.”

He has some very good points in there. This guy seems to be a perfect example of the "Even a blind squirrel will eventually find a nut" theory

I don't get all this hate for Hitchens... Even when he's RIGHT, people still bitch about the guy -- way to fuckin' go on that whole concept of addressing the issue, and not the person... Jeebus.

This was a damn good speech. I've heard Hitchens say things I didn't agree with before, but I've also heard him say things that I DID agree with -- I judge his statement on their own, individual merits...

To Dzwonka

Hitchens has shown such poor judgment in the past that I find no reason to pay any attention to him. I have other people to rely on whose opinions I respect implicitly. One of my favorite public intellectuals is Canadian economist and polymath, John Ralston Saul. For my money he has been unwaveringly correct on every issue he has ever addressed. Hitchens is all over the place ideologically; I’m not.

it's not often that i'm offended at all. i'm often caused by some statement to really think, but not as base an assumption as the slaughter of jews by the nazis during the rise of the third second in command on the enterprise. a little hidden pun there.

i don't doubt for a moment that the holocaust happened; video footage doesn't just miraculously appear, and i doubt that jews would voluntarily starve themselves to pretend to be starving. jews are always thinking about food, amirite?! yes, that was hacky, but what the hell.

to the point; amazing speech, and i'm very very thankful to you for posting it.

"Hitchens is all over the place ideologically; I’m not."

yeah, i'm still not sure if he really believes the holocaust didn't happen... if he does, that's kind of fucked up. BUT his point, in the case of this speech/video clip, is pretty much spot on.

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Hitchens does appear to revel in the act of going against the traditions of his intellectual pedigree for its' own sake. I can see how that would piss off a lot of people and they'd think he's an self-satisfied contrarian fat-head. I see a guy, however, who is engaged in equal-opportunity rattling of cages irrespective of party, which is a most natural exercise of liberty (the only thing wrong with it is that it's so rare). That's a good trait to demonstrate to a jaded public, because by facing off with that kind of blunt presentation, it puts focus on what a fragile thing liberty really is. It's slightly uncomfortable and brittle. It shows that just because you're in a camp and you hate your opposition, it doesn't mean that you're any less of a conformist.

I'm sorry but I do appreciate anybody who isn't hemmed in by the usual sacred cows and omissions exercised by apologists of every political stripe. I LIKE that Hitchens is "all over the map". We need more of that. I get bored of the predictable nature of political orthodoxy. It tends to sink into ruts that no longer apply, except on paper, in a quickly changing world.

Just Hitchen's pointing out how zeal to criminalize "hate speech" lays the groundwork for the darkest of demagoguery, is worth the price of admission. It goes over most peoples' heads as they attempt to implement a progressive attack.

I can't say I always agree with Hitchens (and I'd think it bizarre for anyone who would) but I do find him engaging to the point that he almost makes me forget that Paris Hilton exists. That's gotta be worth some intellectual credit. If, however, you want to listen to the person whom you always agree with, you have an overwhelming array of options.

Thanks so much for posting this Norm.

Hitchens... knowledge and balls. That's how serious discussions should happen.

I like John Ralston Saul too, but I haven't heard him taking on anything bigger than air-conditioning, has he said anything clever, cleverly, lately?

Censorship is laziness.

Thanks for posting this clip, I really have enjoyed your site and have been following it for some time now

It is too bad I missed that talk, it was spot on for many points.

Saul gave a talk at he University of Toronto Mississauga campus just last week, and I was able to attend that one. I thought it was well done, he focused on the death of globalism, what it actually means, and how almost no one was actually working to promote it, well at least the true ideals of globalism.

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did he actually say that the "warrant" for anti-semitism was to be found in a "famous book" that could be found in "every synagogue in the city", or something like that? whatever, the bizarre mix of silly, outlandish, contentious and valid/interesting statements was entertaining enough to keep me glued for 20plus minutes. i've never heard of this guy-is his presence here meant to be anything more than entertaining? it was fascinating, in a morbid kind of way, watching that ever popular combination of fear and hatred positively radiate from his very pores as he sought refuge in the happy, tolerant, accepting arms of atheists and free-speech advocates.

Don’t take refuge in the false security of consensus.

I guess this gives Hitchens license to become an apologist for intelligent design theorists and holocaust deniers? I may defend their right to have these views but not the views themselves. We must take some security in consensus if we are ever to move forward, otherwise we will all be reinventing the wheel every generation. The trick is to pick the right consensus; something Hitchens doesn’t do very often.

I respect his right to have been a cheerleader for the Iraq War and to change his political stripes like some people change hairstyles but I do not respect his judgment. On the other hand, everything John Ralston Saul has ever written is almost eerily prescient where Hitchens’ ideas have the shelf-life of ripe bananas. Pundits like Hitchens and Andrew Sullivan were calling for apologies from those opposed to the war in the heady days of “Mission Accomplished.” Memory can be extremely inconvenient for their ilk. If you can’t remember, go back and read the crap he was cranking out and you’ll understand my reluctance to listen to anything he says even when I am in (very partial) agreement.

"For my money he has been unwaveringly correct on every issue he has ever addressed. Hitchens is all over the place ideologically; I’m not."

I'm not familiar with John Ralston Saul, but will be certain to look him up. However, I'm finding myself very skeptical that anyone can be "unwaveringly correct" on every issue.

Is it just that he is very consistent in his views and you always happen to agree with him? (that is a rhetorical question).

Regardless, I don't always agree with Hitchens either, but this speech was most excellent and his other opinions, "right" or not, shouldn't automatically render THESE opinions less worthy of consideration/respect/praise.

Just because I don't agree with him on other topics, it doesn't automatically mean I can't agree with him on others. Often that can be the very beginning of meaningful dialogue.

And regarding consistency: Doesn't a person have a right change positions on things and still be taken seriously? Doesn't a person have right to express their perspective, which can most certainly change over time with more education or experience or just simple thoughtfulness?

I don't think a person's credibility should always be associated with consistency (of couse, hypocrisy is another matter).

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I agree with the opinion that Hitchens has guts and knowledge but poor judgment. It's not just the war in Iraq. He said in print that he believed that Clinton had Vince Foster murdered. And he said that the 2004 election was stolen in Ohio, after reading a couple articles about it. Hitchen's contrarian status blinds him to the need to have good, solid reasons for his opinions. Andrew Sullivan is much the same way--he sees himself in a certain relationship with the political establishment and conventional wisdom, and basically makes judgments based on this relationship rather than an engagement with the matter itself.

Leftbanker, I see your point. Well said.

I don't think Hitchens is being an apologist for either ID proponents or Holocaust deniers. He's simply defending the right to hold those views. As to taking security in consensus we all do for as the leftbanker says we don't have time to reinvent the wheel for each new generation. But I think Hitchens warning is a cautionary one not a prescriptive one. It is a good idea on occasion to question long held beliefs in light of additional evidence. As in science we refine our understanding of our world, it is a process not an end point as some apparently believe the Koran to be.

It was a damned good speech! The man has guts and brains - even if he is sometimes spectacularly wrong.

Yes, Hitchens was dead wrong about Iraq, but one has to admit that of all the people making the case for the war, he was one of the few who could argue for it passionately who was worth llistening to.

(I haven't watched the vid yet ... I will tonight)

In Canada, we already have a Supreme Court precedent that prohibits hate speech against identifiable groups, though it helps to note the slight differences.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R.v.Keegstra

http://hatemonitor.csusb.edu/othercountriescases/RvKeegstra19903SCR.html

Voltaire adopted to current day application. I highly enjoyed the speech, and I was talking about the Holocaust thing with my wife yesterday.

The further we get from 1945, the more the "nazis" become the ultimate evil in the world. They are THE ultimate "bad guy". They are the demonization of everything humans can become, even to becoming something other than human. This is not defending the things they've done, but you shouldn't be thrown in jail for asking questions about the severity of the holocaust. It's a damn question.

Mother culture teaches that the holocaust is the worst thing to ever happen to people, which is far from the truth. Just because we had video cameras and photos of the event doesn't make it more of an atrocity. I'd argue that lying slaves in the bottom of boats to shit and starve on each other, is no different from what the Nazi's were doing. Starving people to death, killing or drowning those who weren't "useful". The problem with saying that the slave trade is on par with the holocaust is the fact that americans were a part of slavery (which we mitigate by blaming "other african tribes", which is true historically, but without someone to sell to...). You cannot demonize yourself as much as you can the "others". Especially when the "others" are a group of believers, which are an almost non-existant group today. I'm not sure on the numbers of slaves that died in the slave trade, but is that really the point? Value X is greater than Value Y? That makes it more horrible?

It will be interesting to see how the culture treats Nazi's in 200 years...

Sorry, train of thought post, hope it makes sense.

Your post doesn't make sense.

Mother culture teaches that the holocaust is the worst thing to ever happen to people...

I don't know what "mother culture" is, but most learned people would agree that the Holocaust was certainly, in terms of the scope of how many human beings were killed and in how little time it took, as abjectly barbaric as any babaric act of human slaughter this world has seen.

No one is comparing it to other genocides or pooh-poohing those other horrific genocides. The Holocaust stands out alone in terms of the scientific manner by which the Nazis captured, imprisoned, and murdered 12 million humans (Jews, Gypsies, political opponents, homosexuals, Russians and Poles, et al) in fewer than four years.

This was not an act of passionate violence, but was instead a rational policy enacted almost dispassionately by the Nazi leaders, as if they were merely cleaning their crops of vermin and pests.

There have been many horrific genocides just in the last 100 years. The Turks slaughtered at least 1 million Armenians in 1915-1917. The Khmer Rouge killing fields of Cambodia in the late 70s-early 80s saw the wanton slaughter of nearly 3 million humans. In Ruwanda nearly 1 million people were murdered ten years ago. Lord knows how many murders happened in Stalin's Soviet Union.

My "mother culture" teaches me all of these horrible, barbaric genocides were "bad," not just the Holocaust. To "rank" them in order of which was the worst is positively stupid and pointless, I agree, but still...

...But still, the Holocaust was, in sheer numbers, the worst among these modern genocides in many ways that bears scrutiny of our most diligent kind:

It was, after all, done so efficiently and scientifically by a Western, Christian nation in the 20th Century using modern, western rational methods and industrialized efficiency. So it was particularly vile by any accord. Perhaps the most babaric act in human history. But it's stupid to rank these things like we're playing "Family Feud."

To refute or question the barbarity of the Holocaust needn't be penalized by law, but those who promote such piffle should be castigated publicy, at least.

Just a correction.. the debate was centred around the decriminalization of hate speech in Canada. Sadly, it's a crime already.

The Hart House dining hall does look a bit like Hogwarts: http://www.harthouse.utoronto.ca/userfiles/Spaces/GreatHall-3808.jpg

:)

I have never heard this guy talk so I did not know he was part of Fox and co, but I have to say he made a lot of very persuasive arguments. I agree with him that hate speech should not be banned. People may find hate speech offensive, but it should never be illigal.

BTW, as a sidenote. I'm a law student so I have read several speech related cases and taken constitutional law. As far as I know, the 1st amendment protects our right to free speech compeletely here in the US. Neo-Nazi's can have rallies and say whatever they like, publish books, etc, as long as they do not actively incite and solicit violent action. So for example the Ku Klux Clan can have a rally, provided they get permits from the city that all rallies must have, but if they solicit immediate action to violence against jes/gays/black, then the rally can be ended for safety concerns. Judges are very unlikely to issue injunctions against speech actions. Even if defamation cases the likelihood of an injunction is very unlikely, more likely are damages because courts in the US would always prefer $$ damages to decist orders of court.

"I guess this gives Hitchens license to become an apologist for intelligent design theorists and holocaust deniers? I may defend their right to have these views but not the views themselves."

That is precisely Hitchens' point. I don't think for a moment that Hitchens does not believe in evolution or doesn't think the holocaust happened -- I'm quite sure he finds those notions the most ridiculous sort of nonsense (especially since he talks about religion at the end of the clip, which is probably why you should watch the entirety before commenting).

Hitchens is merely staying that even if those people are ridiculous, even if their views are moronic, ignorant, and just blatantly wrong, they have a right to say them and we should actually be happy that they are saying them. Don't need to jump for joy and scream "YAY! Ignorance lives!" but his view is that you should be happy that you have someone that is a case that can be used to prove what you know, to know why you know these things, to become further knowledgable.

"Yes, Hitchens was dead wrong about Iraq, but one has to admit that of all the people making the case for the war, he was one of the few who could argue for it passionately who was worth llistening to."

Quite true. That's actually a "danger" to Hitchens I feel: he is a good speaker even on the fly, and even if he is dead wrong on an issue he can be convincing of it through talk. Contrast him with, say, Cheney. I couldn't have a conversation with Dick Cheney no matter the substance because the man can't talk for anything, and it's damn near torture listening to him (hey, I wonder if that is where the policy started...). Bush is worse, of course.

Good points all around. I don't care what he's done before, he makes a lot of sense here.

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i actually watched this again, without googling or other research (since i've never heard of him), in order to try to figure out, without prejudice, why i experienced such a visceral dislike hearing him talk. i think i've got it: i really, really hate it when someone makes a really, really bad argument in support of MY view of a very important, very delicate issue.

for instance, regular readers of this blog know that i feel strongly that israels right to exist as a jewish state should not be open to question. now, if i saw some idiot making this very point for 20 minutes in toronto to a receptive audience, using the argument that the jews are in fact the master race, the goyim exist to be milked and manipulated and the arabs are subhuman scum undeserving of the 22 states they already have, i would have apoplexy. such an argument actually undermines my desire to see israels existence unquestioned, because who wouldn't question a state that allowed itself to be represented thusly in argument? (lets leave the u.s. out of this for now). so, even though he's arguing for my position, he's my enemy, see?

its the same with free speech. i feel very strongly that ALL forms of free speech, including "hate speech", be protected by law- not, as hitchens says clearly here, because the speech itself necessarily has any value, or, as he says, "grain of truth"... but because the CONSTITUTION has value! anyone making the argument that hate speech should be protected because it has or may have value is, as far as i'm concerned, getting it completely wrong and UNDERMINING the cause of free speech.

so, i think he should be arrested and tortured. jk

Jonathan,

What about countries that don't have constitutional guarantees of free speech?

Perhaps I should have clarified this earlier but Hitchens has defended intelligent design, not simply the right to advocate the theory but the underlying pseudo-science it is based upon. Excuse me if I can't take him seriously on anything. I'm sure that Ann Coulter has uttered a thing or two with which I would not violently disagree but I certainly would never solicit her opinion on anything.

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Having read much of Hitchens output over the last twenty years and heard him speak on many occasions, I can confidently state that he does not believe in intelligent design !! That aside. He makes valid and well argued points with regard to freedom of speech. To develop an informed opinion one needs access to all points of view on a subject, including those which deny commonly accepted beliefs or which may cause offence. To use Irving as an example. I learnt alot about the holocaust while reading his work. Mainly in countering his arguments, but I may not have done this research if I hadn't had to argue against his views. Irving may be wrong, but by his work on the holocaust he harms nothing but his own reputation. By banning publications we disagree with, we do harm to the free & liberal society our predecessors risked so much to gain.

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i don't know, malcolm, is that what he's talking about? i guess he did mention austria, which,along with germany has some rather draconian restrictions on free speech having to do with the fairly recent past. i don't know what to tell you- if i were a nazi apologist i wouldn't want to live in those countries. although, if you're just a nazi and don't talk about it too much, its probably paradise. i'm just bullshitting-i don't really know what you're asking. back in a few hours.

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wait, if i get your meaning- i'm just saying if you want to argue for free speech in ANY country, don't use the argument hitchens uses. instead, talk about things like freedom as a value, etc. ok?

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I honestly don't get why the cause of free speech is championed almost solely by right-wing uberhawks. It's true in the UK too. I just don't get it. No one could warm to Hitchens - so why isn't everyone else making the same argument more persuasively?

Free speech should matter to absolutely everyone on all sides of the political spectrum. Leftists should be just as furious about laws impinging on freedom of speech.

It doesn't have to have anything to do with the right to offend religions. The problem is that if restrictions come in, no on e will even be able to discuss religion without fearing attack from the law.

i feel very strongly that ALL forms of free speech, including "hate speech", be protected by law- not, as hitchens says clearly here, because the speech itself necessarily has any value, or, as he says, "grain of truth"... but because the CONSTITUTION has value!

jonathan, I suspect that Hitchens would reply that the reasons free speech part of the Constitution has value are at least some the reasons he gave. The central defense he offered, that it is often precisely when opinions are at their most orthodox that we need the possibility of dissent, is one I think the framers of the Constitution would have admired.

Perhaps I should have clarified this earlier but Hitchens has defended intelligent design, not simply the right to advocate the theory but the underlying pseudo-science it is based upon.

leftbanker, I haven't heard from Hitchens on this subject before, but recent stuff from him suggests you may have it wrong:

from Wikipedia: "Although Hitchens finds himself defending Bush’s foreign policy, he has little admiration for the man himself and has criticized Bush's support of 'intelligent design'.

From the description of his book, God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, on Amazon: [Hitchens] documents the ways in which religion is a man-made wish, a cause of dangerous sexual repression, a distortion of our origins in the cosmos. With eloquent clarity, Hitchens frames the argument for a more secular life based on science and reason, in which hell is replaced by the Hubble Telescope's awesome view of the universe, and Moses and the burning bush give way to the beauty and symmetry of the double helix.

I don't think he was arguing that all arguments have a "grain of truth", it was more that those people have those beliefs for a reason, and you have to hear those reasons to better understand what the truth really is.

Those ID'ers believe it for a reason, so by understanding what they are screaming about, helps you understand better why evolution makes more sense.

They say a stopped clock is right at least twice a day.

I found the first part of his speech somewhat contradictory to the second part.

I also don't see much difference between him and organized religion.

It is like some Atheists will take their beliefs to the level of a religion, when most Atheists don't give a toss what others believe or not.

Hitchens was talking in opposition to a proposed amendment to criminalize hate speech. Did the damn measure pass or not?

What a vicious little liar Hitchens is.

I mean, I agree with everything he says here, of course (except the oversimplifications and deliberate distortions). But where was Hitchens when hate- speech laws were introduced in the name of decency? Right at the forefront championing the rights of bigots and pompous bastards to capitalize on forcing their good intentions down over the heads of everyone else.

And what is he doing now? Is he against hate- speech laws? Of course not, it's well within his sphere of comfort when it's only people we don't care about in our progressive and enlightened societies who have their freedom of expression fucked with.

No, what he cares about is the elite's right, as representatives for our glorious traditions of greatness and liberty, to lambaste other inferior cultures and condemn them as little else but inferior attempts to mimic our own. Even if it means creating distortions and falsehoods to ever justify this righteous fight for what we say we believe in.

But I guess he has a point in more ways than one. And that we need vicious liars like him once in while - rather than the genial and well- intentioned ones he aligned himself with ahead of the Iraq war.

Because he has a lot of good reasons for defending blatant cultural imperialism, doesn't he? When even the most ridiculous of arguments should be afforded not only police- protection, but deserve to be heard spoken by the most powerful and the most loud, and still be afforded the status of an attempt to bravely take to task the terrible cancers on our great culture and tradition of "freedom".

pfah Brave indeed.

But where was Hitchens when hate- speech laws were introduced in the name of decency? Right at the forefront championing the rights of bigots and pompous bastards to capitalize on forcing their good intentions down over the heads of everyone else.

Would you please provide evidence for your charge.

Brilliant! We must stand upp for the freedom of speech!

Regards Humle

Would you please provide evidence for your charge.

I could cite everything he's ever written, I suppose. Or are you suggesting that I should give you a quote where Hitchens contradicts himself?

See, I am challenging the assertion put forward that Hitchens is a champion for the oppressed and the sidelined opinions. The opinions that are so invaluable and rare they must be protected and hailed merely for the fact that they are said. That is the point.

So can you name even one example of that? Or is the first assertion so strong and righteous that you need no proof to believe it is true? Is it so instantly appealing that looking at the application of the argument is not even necessary? That when Hitchens presumes to speak on behalf of freedom of speech, it is not necessary to question - even though Hitchens, in words if not deed, continually insists on?

Really, it seems a wonder you didn't instantly hail my opinion on what Hithchens has written as an invaluable gem because of the apparent lack of any evidence about the matter that is known to you.

But I need to provide evidence, of course, for the idea that championing generalisations and distortions - that are echoed by the most powerful governments on earth - is the work of a coward. That such a thing is not championing free speech at all, and much less individual rights? Simply because the cause is so just?

I'll give Hitchens this much, though: he has a remarkable ability to pick up on and inflate a seemingly idiotic point to literally epic proportions. Or manage to make a truly mundane statement into a rallying cry for whatever team he currently insists on categorically siding with for all time. As well as being quite good at treating hidden assumptions as proof of wisdom worthy of being listened to. And he truly does have some very bright moments.

But a champion of free speech he is not. He is a propagator, simply continuing a great tradition of many others before him.

Or are you suggesting that I should give you a quote where Hitchens contradicts himself?

Yes, evidence that he is not a champion of free speech.

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Hitchens is boisterous and often arrogant and almost certainly loves the sound of his own voice. And Everyone is aware of this fact - so I think it's safe to say that any further half-wit observations of these facts are not only old, but an incomplete criticism.

Those characteristics also can describe any number of leading pundits including Ann Coulter, Hannity, etc.

So by what criteria do we then seperate these personalities? These: Intelligence, insight, humor, courage. That is where it matters, and that is why Hitchens is one of the most important and interesting journalistic figures around today. I don't care about rumors of alcoholism, or if he steps on peoples toes during debates and interviews, or if he occasionally comes across as contrarian for the sake of it. If you watch this speech and find no merit, I'm not sure what country you're meant to be living in.

Thanks for posting this!

i know little about this guy, and for all i know he could be a nazi sympathizing pro war dirtbag, but i agree with him totally on the subject of free speech. Evolution is real, the holocaust happened and jesus died on the cross, but i still love a heated debate.

In the words of Voltaire, I disapprove of what you say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it.

Thanks Matt…after watching the clip and reading the various remarks, I wanted to try and put forth here my perspective on Hitchens…you did it for me!

Yes, evidence that he is not a champion of free speech.

In other words, you have to hear it from his own mouth. Stating clearly that he is less than honest? While continuing to ignore the actual argument he makes, or the free assumptions that goes along with it?

Humle:

Brilliant! We must stand upp for the freedom of speech!

Yes to opinions!

Matt Brough:

So by what criteria do we then seperate these personalities? These: Intelligence, insight, humor, courage. That is where it matters, and that is why

Well, at least you're honest, I'll give you that.

yahweh:

i know little about this guy, and for all i know he could be a nazi sympathizing pro war dirtbag, but i agree with him totally on the subject of free speech. Evolution is real, the holocaust happened and jesus died on the cross, but i still love a heated debate.

As long as it's understood there will be no actual change from engaging in it, perhaps?

But where was Hitchens when hate- speech laws were introduced in the name of decency? Right at the forefront championing the rights of bigots and pompous bastards to capitalize on forcing their good intentions down over the heads of everyone else.

Last chance troll, come up with the goods supporting the above statement. You're not even very good at dancing around the issue. Time to come up with the goods or fuck off.

You don't like having your opinions challenged, do you.

For instance - Mark Steyn recently wrote a book about the dangers of Islam and the clear and present danger it is, and was to the Serbs - taking the opportunity to shamelessly endorse the Serbs wiping the growing Bosnian population out in self- defence before it was too late.

Here is Hitchens' take on the merits of saying such things: http://www.city-journal.org/html/171urbanities-steyn.html

Facing the Islamist Menace Christopher Hitchens Mark Steyn’s new book is a welcome wake-up call. In the prologue to his new book, America Alone: The End of the World As We Know It, Mark Steyn sarcastically alludes to two people whom, in different ways, I know well. The first is novelist Martin Amis, ridiculed by Steyn for worrying about environmental apocalypse when the threat to civilization is obviously Islamism; the second is Jack Straw, formerly Tony Blair’s foreign secretary, mocked for the soft and conciliatory line he took over the affair of the Danish cartoons.

Etc.

But I'll admit - he makes an excellent argument on the behalf of the establishment for unimpeded cultural imperialism. Through giving it, the position of the strong majority, the appearance of being the one in need of protection. So listen well to what he has to say.

And I'll leave it with the comments here, and simply ask you to take Hitchens' words seriously, in the way that he does not.

I think Hitchen's speech was very well constructed and he made many logical points.

However, has anyone considered whether it may have been possible that the holocaust would not have happened if it had been illegal (or socially unacceptable) for the nazis and their ilk to openly preach hatred/racism against the Jews?

Forgive me for sounding like the neo-con that I'm not, but perhaps somethings are worth sacrificing in this life it it prevents things like the holocaust.

I'm still not convinced either way on this issue.

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"“Don’t take refuge in the false security of consensus.”

I guess this gives Hitchens license to become an apologist for intelligent design theorists and holocaust deniers?"

Ahhh, but that's not his point is it? He's not taking up the cause of ID or holocaust deniers. He's taking up their right to speak. To make a case for their cause themselves.

And wouldn't you really rather lance that boil in public? Wouldn't you really rather all the idiots were free to identify themselves as such by their inane yammering? Isn't it really better that Ann Coulter announce here venomous character to the full? Isn't it better that these people wander the earth as an example, a constant reminder to the rest of us that the price of sanity is eternal vigilance?

fp

becker gives a good example why hate speech laws are ridiculous, "i feel strongly that israels right to exist as a jewish state should not be open to question".

I feel that zionism is racist hate speech and that becker in this case is promoting racism, but I don't see why he should denied the right to express his opinion, even though he would deny me my right to express mine.

There are still Afrikaaners who believe that South Africa has the right to exist as a white supremacist state and that should not be open to question.

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bernarda writes:"...even though he would deny me my right to express mine."

wherever did you get that idea, sugar tits? that is totally untrue and i have made this clear more than a few times in more than a few ways at recent threads, including this one.

i may disagree with your opinion of zionism, but i would defend to the death, etc, etc.

first time you've given me cause to doubt your reading comprehension skills.

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btw, if my reading comprehension skills are functioning ok, it seems that bernarda is saying that i am promoting racism by asserting that israels right to exist should not be open to question.

you may disagree with my assertion but... promoting racism? does that strike anyone else as extreme in the extreme?

wherever did you get that idea, sugar tits?

Well, Mel, that was an uncalled for bit of macho-induced ad hominem.

jonathan becker, bernarda is far more likely saying that i am promoting racism by asserting that israels right to exist at the expense of destroying or denying the right to existence of a Palestine state, relentless occupation of Arab lands, killings of tens if not hundreds of Arab civilians with 4.75 million Palestinians driven to refugee camps.

And since Zionism inclues practising aparthied policies towards Arabs within Israel and its occupied territories, Zionism is clearly racist.

It is delusional on your part to claim otherwise.

Gee, becker, I can't imagine where I got the impression that you favored censoring people. It couldn't be because you said, "i feel strongly that israels right to exist as a jewish state should not be open to question", could it?

I guess I can read and even understand that.

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yes, bernarda, i see how you might have come to that mistaken conclusion. let me clarify. in the world of ideas and speech everything is open to question, as far as i'm concerned. i didn't mean people shouldn't be allowed to talk about the issue, or any issue. in the same way i would say i don't believe the existence of the redwood forests should be open to question just because someone wants to cut them down to make souveniers, or whatever. doesn't mean i think the souvenier sellers should be arrested for talking about it, just that the trees themselves should remain legally protected- as should free speech. sorry for the confusion.

"in the world of ideas and speech everything is open to question, as far as i'm concerned. "

To rephrase then, it's okay to QUESTION (verbally) the right of Israel to exist, you're just asserting that it's not okay for other states to actually destroy it.

Fair enough. But I can certainly see how people took your original formulation as a prohibition on discussion - in which you forbade 'question' when you wanted to imply 'make war on'.

It is apparently easy to misunderstand communications hereabouts - there's a whole lot of assertions upthread to the effect that because Hitchens doesn't always support the 'little guy' (he doesn't) or due to monumental incorrectness (in somebody's opinion) in other venues that he is somehow not an 'honest' champion of free speech.

B-crap! The two considerations are not remotely contiguous. The beauty of the position - that of all absolutists on free speech - is that they don't have to AGREE with you on ANYTHING other than everyone's right to disagree.

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just to reiterate, in this morass of misunderstanding:"prohibition on discussion" is against everything i stand for. i just wouldn't argue the point the way hitchens did in the clip, which seems to me to be leaving too much of an opening for anti-free speech advocates to enter and wreak havoc.

Hi all, any discussion on free speech, while admirable, remains meaningless.

In almost any given society, even in USA, there are legal restrictions on free speech such as in the areas of libel, perjury and sedition.

Even in the free-wheeling culture of cyberspace, moderation or posting policies are the norm, rather than the exception on community websites.

The reason why people argue over free speech is perhaps they have some issue over censoring free speech in principle, while endorsing it in practise with their silence.

Case in point.

I don't see people protesting when an anti-war liberal is arrested or hauled away for making his views known at a Bush event.

Nor does anyone protest the forceful removal of a Conservative heckler from a liberal event.

And yet I see Americans protesting any time when free speech in principle is cast in doubt or proposed with restrictions.

And people wonder why American hypocrisy, rather than American democracy, form major topics of discussion among people overseas.

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I don't see people protesting when an anti-war liberal is arrested or hauled away for making his views known at a Bush event.
Nor does anyone protest the forceful removal of a Conservative heckler from a liberal event.


You see this happening because, although those people have the right to speak their mind, they do NOT have the right to hinder another's right to participate in the event. When a heckler speaks out, not only are they encroaching on the rights of others to participate, but they are also trying to force others to hear what they have to say. It is one thing that someone has the right to say what they like, but another altogether to demand that someone else actually listen.

It never fails to amaze me to see the responses people can come up with. Apparently instead of listening to the merits of his speech, people take bits of it & use them for justification to call him names, a "right'winger" (which is hilarious), part of Fox & Co (What??) & others. Even as an "ignorant" Christian, I totally agree with him about defending free speech. He is, in fact, wrong, when he says that Christianity teaches hatred, when just the opposite is true. Nevertheless, I defend his right to his beliefs & for him to express them & even to hate me if he wants to. Fleinn - re: "However, has anyone considered whether it may have been possible that the holocaust would not have happened if it had been illegal (or socially unacceptable) for the nazis and their ilk to openly preach hatred/racism against the Jews?" Do you get that it was the government making the laws that led the Nazi movement? Hate speech was whatever THEY said it was. This is the point Hitchens was making. Who do want to decide for you what you can & cannot hear, see & read? The more PC we become in this country, the more danger we are all in. I read today that Jesse Jackson & Al Sharpton are going to have a serious debate to decide what is acceptable. God help us all (sorry Hitch). Also, there is a movement afoot to "ban" the term "illegal alien" as some have decided it is hateful & racist. Never mind whether the term is true or not. Where will it end????

I personally like Hitchens, i agree with him on most points on religion, though i don't agree that having personal spirituality in that equation is good, though then again i have not heard him talk about that.

As far as the war in Iraq (which i think is an invasion, not a war), I disagree with him, although i respect his view because at least he has a good idea of WHY he supports the war other than "It's the right thing to do". he seems to have some intimate knowledge of things going on over there.

The thing is, you will never agree with anyone 100% on everything, and i don't think changing your position on something is necessarily hypocritical, as you learn and grow, as more facts are open to you, it is only natural to change or add on to your perspective. Then again there are people like John McCain who flipflop, change their views according to the political climate. There is a big difference.

Hitchens to religion; "Eat shit and die."

I wish people would stop randomly making shit up about people you dislike. Hitchens has never championed the theory (and that's being generous) of ID and has apposed the teaching this "stultifying nonsense" in our schools. It may interest you to know as well that he is actually technically Jewish before deliberately trying to misrepresent his comments on Irving.

Where can I find the rest of the debate this is from?

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Leftbanker: Why would Hitchens -- an outspoken atheist who ridicules intelligent design proponents in the video at the top of this page -- defend the "theory" of ID? Do you have any evidence that he has done so, or are you just talking out of your ass?

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