Sunday, February 02, 2014

Tolerance - the moment between breathing out one orthodoxy and breathing in another.

And by now the left doesn't find "free speech" to be useful to the movement.

"Should Neo-Nazis be allowed Free Speech?"

Over the past several weeks, free speech has gotten costlier—at least in France and Israel.
In France, Dieudonne M’Bala M’Bala, an anti-Semitic stand-up comic infamous for popularizing the quenelle, an inverted Nazi salute, was banned from performing in two cities. M’Bala M’Bala has been repeatedly fined for hate speech, and this was not the first time his act was perceived as a threat to public order.
Meanwhile, Israel’s parliament is soon to pass a bill outlawing the word Nazi for non-educational purposes. Indeed, any slur against another that invokes the Third Reich could land the speaker in jail for six months with a fine of $29,000. The Israelis are concerned about both the rise of anti-Semitism globally, and the trivialization of the Holocaust—even locally.
To Americans, these actions in France and Israel seem positively undemocratic. The First Amendment would never prohibit the quenelle, regardless of its symbolic meaning. And any lover of “Seinfeld” would regard banning the “Soup Nazi” episode as scandalously un-American. After all, in 1977 a federal court upheld the right of neo-Nazis to goose-step right through the town of Skokie, Illinois, which had a disproportionately large number of Holocaust survivors as residents. And more recently, the Supreme Court upheld the right of a church group opposed to gays serving in the military to picket the funeral of a dead marine with signs that read, “God Hates Fags.”
While what is happening in France and Israel is wholly foreign to Americans, perhaps it’s time to consider whether these and other countries may be right. Perhaps America’s fixation on free speech has gone too far.
Actually, the United States is an outlier among democracies in granting such generous free speech guarantees. Six European countries, along with Brazil, prohibit the use of Nazi symbols and flags. Many more countries have outlawed Holocaust denial. Indeed, even encouraging racial discrimination in France is a crime. In pluralistic nations like these with clashing cultures and historical tragedies not shared by all, mutual respect and civility helps keep the peace and avoids unnecessary mental trauma.

30 years ago, my law school prof Richard Delgado wrote a book saying "no."

It's taken that long for this idea to go mainstream.

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