Christopher Hitchens defending freedom of speech



and the since Christopher came up with an American example I think it's also worthwhile quoting the American Supreme Court justice Oliver Wendell Holmes who said that freedom of speech does not extend to the right to shout fire fourthly in a crowded theater in other words when your freedom of speech causes other people harm you do have to think twice about whether you can exercise it and I suppose at some point the authorities have the responsibility to ensure that freedom is is exercised reasonably it's it should have it should have been you know it's easy enough to say that if something provokes a mob to be to violence it's the mob that ought to be punished or prosecuted for violating the law and being violent but then you get into the whole question of whether a certain offense was so grievous as to serve as a sort of extenuation for the outrage expressed by the mob we've seen this in the Satanic Verses debate to fire fire but you know he faked it for food yeah what truth two points about that one is so many fires how do you zero how they could you could be just as liable to start a panic if there was a fire by shouting fire as you could in fact more likely and then you would be liable to start a panic if there was not as I think I've just demonstrated Justice Holmes his famous judgement it seems to me is one of the stupidest remarks ever made from the bench of the United States Supreme Court and by the way he made it in the following context a group of Yiddish speaking socialists who were opposed to mr. Wilson's First World War America's participation in the Imperial bloodbath gave out leaflets in Yiddish in New York saying don't sign up for the war don't believe in it you're being led into a disaster they were put in prison for life from producing leaflets in Yiddish making socialists case against the war and bloody fool oil Wendell Holmes had the nerve to say it was the equivalent of shouting fire in a crowded theatre where there was no fire course the fire there was a bloodbath on the Western Front that's a fire enough for anybody so you shouldn't have used such a example you're right to wave your fists stops just short of my face how about that mr. Lincoln once said just as I would not be slave so I wouldn't not be a master I don't claim the right not to be censored just I claim the right not to be a censor I insist on this the beliefs of the religious are very offensive to me when I have to read in the newspapers that if I don't accept a bogus story about it the supposed human sacrifice that took place in Jerusalem in something like the ad 1930 33 if I don't accept this I'm going to hell for not accept this wonderful offer I'm extremely offended I think of all the cruelty and violence and misery and stupidity that's been afflicted by that I do not go and burn down the nearest Baptist or Catholic Church I'd be ashamed of myself if I did an up call from your deform mobs to vindicate my hurt feelings I will I don't do it the Archangel Gabriel never said a word to the peasant Mohammed not a word the event as despite did not take place I feel quite certain and saying sir any more than the Archangel Gabriel announced himself to the non Virgin Mary I find it repellent to have to hear of people and the way they're treated you live under systems where that stuff is believed it couldn't be more offensive to me who's ever going to say well if your feelings are hurt Christopher you're perfectly entitled to go to burn down a newspaper or house of worship sensible can you possible yeah I want to take up this very point which is the nature of offense that something that gives offense is seen to legitimize violence and the classic case that we're familiar with all of us is of the cartoons in the Danish newspaper which appeared in the September and only by the December of that year in Denmark had caused trouble across the world 50 countries reproduced these cartoons show that we all knew what we were talking about but ambassadors were withdrawn from Copenhagen and embassies around the world Danish embassies were attacked and many people died because of cartoons come on just say are a set of not very sophisticated cartoons worth a whole set of live justify what the principle certainly is but here's what you have to understand a picture if you will suppose you are a sensitive person wishing to live in a multicultural universe and you think well I'll go out of my way if I have to I'll bend over backwards not to do anything that will needlessly inflame a Muslim person suppose that was your wish your desire how could you possibly have known if you've made that resolution that some caricatures actually published in an afternoon paper and copan holiday would lead to an international pogrom against a small northern European democracy with its diplomatic immunity violated its embassies burned the embassies of a democracy burned I mean to say by mobs in the capital cities of dictatorships like Libya and Syria where demonstrations are not normally allowed but suddenly the police don't show up where people who look Scandinavian are a chant where anyone who is Scandinavian is condemned and subjected to a boycott a racist boycott in fact from Pakistan to Indonesia where violence and intimidation are used against the the press where embassies of Muslim supposedly Muslim countries call upon the prime minister of general to tell him what he's not legally allowed to do that he must censor his own press which is not in his ability to do and where threats in other words are brought by the heads of states who came to speak for Islam now I don't know any Muslim who thinks that the ambassador of Egypt or Libya or Algeria speaks for Islam there's no reason to think these ramshackle dictatorships have any such right the prime minister of Denmark certainly has no right to intervene in what was published in the press in them it's one of the most extraordinary cases of intimidation and this against the country that devotes a sizable part of its budget to helping the Palestinian Authority to sending peacekeepers and humanitarian workers to the Arab world so the that had done its best to accommodate Muslim immigrants that doesn't have an imperial past that didn't invade Vietnam or bomb here ocean or any of the usual crap that you hear no it means that they whatever you do they will find a reason to court to take offense and enter and when they've done that they think it's their axiomatic right to go straight to violence of the most criminal kind including you represent the United Nations here Shashi fervency violations of diplomatic immunity one of the most precious gains of human civilization no one has to oppose this 100 percent it is in horrible insufferable it's enough concessions already that'll be made has to stop now

14 thoughts on “Christopher Hitchens defending freedom of speech

  • Things have deteriorated much further in PC speech since this meeting took place. Hitchens would be apoplectic at the behavior of some universities who are banning speeches from conservative visitors. He may not have agreed with their speeches but he would have fought for their right to deliver them.

  • Freedom of speech ( and freedom of expression) means we are free to draw pictures of the alleged prophet Mohammed.

    Draw Mohammed Day is every May 20th.

    Exercise your freedom and draw Mohammed the pedophile this May 20th.

  • That woman was victim shaming the people killed by the Muslim attack and denying the agency of the attackers.

  • No one ever "gives" offense. Offense is only ever "taken". I am not at all responsible for the fact that your panties get in a twist when you hear or see something you don't want to hear or see. You are free to come utterly unglued over the color of the sky, if that is how you choose to suffer this life, but it's NOT the sky's color upsetting you… it's your own petulant expectation that it be otherwise. Being offended is nothing but intolerance for the fact that other people are free to NOT be the same as you. Suggesting that offense validates or exculpates violence or coercion to punish others for their thoughts and force compliance to your way of thinking is the foundation of all fascism.

  • wish I was there to take that cigarette and glass of scotch away from Christopher. R.I.P. my good man.

  • I hate seeing him cough in these videos I feel the urge to shout at the screen go see a doctor and stop smoking we need you now more than ever.

  • This Indian guy recently appeared on British TV, claiming that people in Britain today are in part responsible for the atrocities committed by the British Empire in what is now India , and should feel guilty.

  • Is hitchens pwning him while drinking two different alcoholic beverages, and smoking, while on t.v. ? Fucking love him so much.

  • I wish we could hear Hitch's reaction to the series of Islamic retaliation by violence against Innocence of Mulims now.

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