Copycat, apprentice, or just angry boy?

It’s happened again. Just days after the Sri Lanka blasts, and only a little over a month since Brenton Tarrant. A 19-year-old in San Diego has chosen to merge the Pittsburgh example with the Christchurch example, by writing a nearly identical manifesto to Tarrant’s, but targeting a Jewish synagogue instead of a mosque. The suppression of the manifesto is also happening again….

The Purpose of Samizdat Philosophy is Realized, In The Worst Possible Way…

What I am about to do would, were I not a US citizen, would expose me to a high risk of criminal prosecution and prison time in some countries. Because of the events of the last week, two of the countries where this could now occur, are in the anglo-sphere: Australia and New Zealand. This fact is frightening to me. Yes, more frightening than the threat of terrorism or gang violence.

The Freedom Of The Press – George Orwell

Unpopular ideas can be silenced, and inconvenient facts kept dark, without the need for any official ban. Anyone who has lived long in a foreign country will know of instances of sensational items of news — things which on their own merits would get the big headlines-being kept right out of the British press, not because the Government intervened but because of a general tacit agreement that ‘it wouldn’t do’ to mention that particular fact. So far as the daily newspapers go, this is easy to understand. The British press is extremely centralised, and most of it is owned by wealthy men who have every motive to be dishonest on certain important topics. But the same kind of veiled censorship also operates in books and periodicals, as well as in plays, films and radio. At any given moment there is an orthodoxy, a body of ideas which it is assumed that all right-thinking people will accept without question. It is not exactly forbidden to say this, that or the other, but it is ‘not done’ to say it, just as in mid-Victorian times it was ‘not done’ to mention trousers in the presence of a lady. Anyone who challenges the prevailing orthodoxy finds himself silenced with surprising effectiveness. A genuinely unfashionable opinion is almost never given a fair hearing, either in the popular press or in the highbrow periodicals.

Free Speech, In Principle

Bottom on Top: The world is not perfect. But, it is a mistake to adopt the nihilistic attitude that it is therefore not worth striving for perfection. Where we can enable the free exchange of ideas, as a voluntary negotiation between capable and responsible men, we should do that. In the meantime, we settle for functional standards like first amendment case law.

A Brief History of Obscenity Law in America – Carlos A. Ball

During approximately the first 120 years of obscenity prosecutions in the United States (that is, roughly between the 1810s until the 1930s), courts frequently, and without much controversy or disagreement, pointed to the promotion of public morality as the main objective behind obscenity laws… …The promotion of public morality through law was grounded in the notion that it was appropriate for the state to discourage individuals from engaging in conduct that society deemed to be morally wrong. …Although courts in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries embraced public morality as the normative basis for obscenity law, around the 1930s a growing number of judges began to express skepticism of the notion that public morality granted the government virtually untrammeled discretion to regulate obscenity…

Does The Constitution Protect Free Speech? – Herbert F. Goodrich

MANY thoughtful men and women, witnessing the suppression of speech, by means both judicial and extra-judicial, in the period through which we have just passed, have reluctantly concluded that our hard won right of freedom of speech has been lost, swept away in the flood tide of war enthusiasm. They point to the example of the recent candidate for the presidency, Eugene Debs, who is still confined in a federal prison for words he uttered during the war. They call attention to the fact that the fate of Mr. Debs is no worse than that of scores of other persons, members of his and other minority groups, who have gone to jail since April, 1917, for giving utterance to unpopular opinions. Finally, they show us a widespread wave of “anti-disturbance” legislation among our legislatures during and immediately after the war.

From The Contract To Free Speech? – Alan Haworth

…would a group of rational choosers, who are constrained to coexist and who are negotiating from the standpoint of an appropriately constructed original position, include a free speech principle amongst the fundamental elements of their constitution? I shall argue that, for all contractualism’s initial promise, an attempt to construct a contractualist defence of free speech must ultimately fail because it requires making too many ad hoc presuppositions…

Of The Liberty Of The Press – David Hume

It is a very comfortable reflection to the lovers of liberty, that this peculiar privilege of Britain is of a kind that cannot easily be wrested from us, and must last as long as our government remains in any degree free and independent. It is seldom that liberty of any kind is lost all at once. Slavery has so frightful an aspect to men accustomed to freedom, that it must steal in upon them by degrees, and must disguise itself in a thousand shapes in order to be received. But if the liberty of the press ever be lost, it must be lost at once.

Two Concepts of Free Speech – Philip Pettit

…all agree, of course, that free speech exists only to the extent that there is considerable latitude in speakers’ choices about what to say. And they debate in detail about the precise extent of the required latitude. But they say little or nothing on what it is about choices in that range of speech that makes them free…

…there are two distinct grounds on which speech in the relevant range might be taken to be free. The first is that people are unhindered in how they exercise their speech options within that range. The second is that they are protected in the exercise of those options: in particular, that they are protected by public law or by the public rules of a corporate body like a university, which has its own domain and government…

Areopagitica – A Defence of Free Speech – John Milton

Books are not absolutely dead things, but do contain a potency of life in them to be as active as that soul was whose progeny they are; nay they do preserve as in a vial the purest efficacy and extraction of that living intellect that bred them. I know they are as lively, and as vigorously productive, as those fabulous Dragons teeth; and being sown up and down, may chance to spring up armed men. And yet on the other hand, unless wariness be used, as good almost kill a Man as kill a good Book; who kills a Man kills a reasonable creature, Gods Image; but he who destroys a good Book, kills reason itself, kills the Image of God, as it were in the eye. Many a man lives a burden to the Earth; but a good Book is the precious life-blood of a master spirit, embalmed and treasured up on purpose to a life beyond life. ‘Tis true, no age can restore a life, whereof perhaps there is no great loss; and revolutions of ages do not oft recover the loss of a rejected truth, for the want of which whole Nations fare the worse. We should be wary therefore what persecution we raise against the living labours of public men, how we spill that seasoned life of man preserved and stored up in Books…