A brief discourse on freedom to read and freedom to speak

FTRW2013_squareI’m reading in Weyburn tonight at the Weyburn Public Library. It’s partly in honor of Freedom to Read Week, and so here, in a nutshell, is my Freedom to Read philosophy:

People should be free to read whatever they want.

Want more? Okay, I’ll add this:

People should be free to write and say whatever they want. In general, people should be free.

There lies within all of us a desire to censor those who say things we don’t like. The hardest tests of anyone’s commitment to freedom of speech is when others choose to read, watch or say things we find abhorrent.

Just today I see people being urged to sign a petition to try to stop the Sun News Network from being seen by more Canadians, because those pushing the petition are hearing opinions on Sun TV with which they disagree.

Also today, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled on a tough free-speech case involving Bill Whatcott, who vociferously attacks homosexuality as abhorrent.

I believe the Supreme Court came down on the wrong side of freedom of speech in that ruling.

I hear many opinions every day that I think are wrong, malicious, or even verging on downright evil, but I will always come down on the side of more, not less freedom of speech: the solution to speech you disapprove of is not to shut down the speaker, but more free speech to refute him or her.

Voltaire’s philosophy (as paraphrased in 1907 by S. G. Tallentyre) sums it up best: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”


Permanent link to this article: https://edwardwillett.com/2013/02/a-brief-discourse-on-freedom-to-read-and-freedom-to-speak/

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