Freedom's Limits, and Their ImportanceSave this online in Del.icio.us. [?] Vote For this Post
Freedom must be limited to the extent that we not harm others by our own actions. To cite Aristotle, if something is true, then all the data will be in agreement with it (which idea is, incidentally, the basis of the scientific method, aka empiricism). I have some examples to prove that the data is in agreement with that statement, and that data will also help reveal the importance of understanding freedom's limits.
I wrote recently that Palestinians knew full well they were voting for terrorists when they cast their ballots for Hamas. Some self-righteous moonbat (that's slang for an extremist left-winger) decided to leave some propaganda in the comments section of the post. After laughing at the opening "But they didn't" for its assumption of Palestinians naivete, I promptly censored the post.
Firstly, I censored the post because part of what followed was a hysterical apology for Palestinian terrorism. Freedom of speech does not mean freedom to advocate murder, an infringement of others' right to life.
Secondly, I censored the shrill propaganda because it made libellous accusations against the state of Israel. Israel and its citizens have the right to enjoy a good reputation, and not be wantonly insulted. Those of you cynics who will say I'm only writing that because I'm Jewish might do well to read my similar defense of Muslims right not to be libelled.
Understanding that freedom is limited and how is key to the fight against terrorism (itself an abuse of freedom, hence why we take away terrorists' freedom by imprisoning them). This importance is derived from the fact that a major part of the fight against terrorism is the fight to promote critical thinking, which is an expression of freedom of speech. When sophists like the one cited above argue that freedom of speech entitles them to say whatever they want, they are abusing free speech, and devaluing it. As free speech is the basis for critical thinking, such lies actually impede the progress of liberalism.
Atrocities like the Crusades (both the Muslims' and the Christians') are attributable to the low literacy rates and near-universal absence of critical thinkng in the Dark Ages. To fight terrorism, the Arabo-Muslim world can improve its terribly low literacy rates and cultural opposition to critical thinking and freedom of speech. Embrace liberalism.
The importance goes beyond that, though. Freedom that respects one's fellow man is what is being fought for in the war on terrorism. The terrorists are fighting for a distorted view of freedoms that is egotistical and advocates abusing others' rights. Understanding the limits of freedom gives direction and purpose to our fight.
To sum up...
The boundary of one man's freedom is his fellow man's freedom. The data proves this.
Excesses must be censored, and I mean that not just in the sense of eliminating some expression, but in the larger sense of actively opposing such excesses.
The limits of freedom of speech are important both for maintaining its value, and directing our battle against terrorism.
Update/Clarification: Thanks to TKC for pointing out my poor syntax. In writing "Understanding that freedom is limited and how is key to the fight against terrorism (itself an abuse of freedom, hence why we take away terrorists' freedom by imprisoning them)," I meant that terrorism is an abuse of freedom. I did not mean that the war on terror is an abuse of freedom (and reading the rest of my political commentary will show I'm an ardent supporter of the fight against terrorists).
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Categories: freedom, free speech, fighting terrorism