Oddly, in one respect (and in one respect only) I find myself more in agreement with Tim Squirrell and Niamh McIntyre than with Brendan O'Neill.
That is, I do believe that there is a place for censorship in a civilised society. We limit freedom of speech when it threatens the public good (such as shouting 'fire' in a crowded cinema) and when it incites to criminality (such as calling on people to riot) and rightly so. Until recently, recognising the dangerous potency of material inciting blood-lust and sexual lust, we placed limits on 'entertainment' that incited these, too.
Joseph Shaw makes the point that 'I would not accept an invitation to debate whether Jews should be massacred, for example, even to argue that they should not be, because this is not a topic which should be open for discussion, and having a formal debate about it legitimises, to some extent, the side in favour.' And again, I think he is probably right here. But a debate, and in particular a debate in a University, is the last thing that should be censored: precisely because it is a debate, and it is a University (as Joseph Shaw also points out, here.) Such censorship should only be exercised in extremis.
Free speech is one of those things, like democracy itself, which is a secondary good; making it into an ultimate good is heresy - or even idolatry, setting it up as a False God.
Everyone, in practice, except the extraordinarily unreflective or the ideologically extreme, agrees with some censorship.
The question is, what are the right mechanisms for censorship, and ultimately, who gets to decide.
In a parliamentary democracy, the idea is that an elected parliament is the least worst solution to that problem. It is not ideal - and our current parliamentarians who seem dedicated to pushing the voting public into the arms of rabble-rousing populists by their unprincipled approach exemplify why - but it is certainly better than students whose intellectual development seems to be limited to slogans that can be printed on a Student Union T-shirt - and the Christ Church censors who caved in to their threats.
ASK FATHER: Book recommendations for young men discerning priesthood - From a reader… QUAERITUR: In reference to one of your latest posts, do you have any solid book recommendations for young men discerning priesthood. A lot o...
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