"""""The importance of freedom of speech – which includes, as the jurisprudence of the US's first amendment shows, all forms of expression – is so great that it cannot be overstated. First, though, one must accept that it is not absolute: the hoary old example, no less compelling for being so, is that one cannot shout "fire!" in a crowded theatre where there is no fire. But the circumstances in
which some greater benefit is served by limiting freedom of expression have to
be such that, on a strictly individual and one-off basis, an overwhelming case
can be made for doing it on that occasion alone. There should, in short, never
be a blanket proscription of expression. When such expression is libelous or
damaging, there can be remedy after the fact, as when someone sues for
defamation. Prior restraint on expression, by contrast, should be a rare and
exceptional event, as just suggested. And emphatically, the fact that someone
"feels offended" by someone else's utterances – or cartoons or theatre
performances – ought never to be grounds for quelling free speech.
Why all these shoulds and should nots regarding free speech? Why is article 19 so
important? Because our other rights depend on it. Without free speech you cannot
claim, assert or protect your other rights. You cannot defend yourself in court
or accuse those who harm you. You cannot have democracy, which turns upon the
statement and discussion of policies and challenge to those who propose them.
There cannot be education worth the name when some things cannot be said, when
some information is suppressed, and when enquiry and debate is stifled. There
cannot be fully flourishing literature or theatre or broadcasting services if
there are gags over mouths and blindfolds over eyes.""""""
Hear, hear. 'Mericans could do worse than to sublimate their instinct for British-bashing and study a bit of GraylingSpeak. Multicultural leftists generally dismiss the secular-progressivism and rights-talk of a Grayling, regarding about any British academic--whether a Keynes, Bertrand Russell, or even Dawkins--as imperialist anathema, whereas the US yokel is probably reminded of Hannibal Lector, or Winnie Churchill, assuming they read Guardian-level English at all (--tho of course Grayling not exactly competing with like Paturkno State vs TrojanCo, or ...Bill n Hillary Iguana tripping the light phantastic to Sinatra drones.... Hymn to La Cosa Nostra).
Regardless, Grayling does correctly note the importance of free speech/expression rights. However bor-reeng, trite, or liberal rights-speak seems to some gauchistes (or boring to Coulteresque vichy wannabes, or neo-confederates, etc.), intelligent humans have a fundamental right to express their viewpoints, their objections, their dissent--whether that's via local metro-newspaper (hardly a vehicle for democracy), blogs, magazines, academic journals. Those rights also apply, arguably, to academia, which often controls or purges discussion of various issues (such as the academic bureaucracy itself).
Professor Grayling has a bit of the old Fabian sensibility: that tends to offend romantics, whether marxist, or mafiosi. He's dissed the royals and even that supposed saint Rowan Williams. He's rather well-read in many of the current scientific/evolutionary debates. To people who consider a Bertrand Russell a manifestation of Apollyon, he probably seems demonic; to those of us who would rather sink with the ship--the USS Fabian--with the likes of Bertrand Russell, Keynes, Dewey, Orwell, even Chomsky, than side with stalinists, or jihadists, he's the voice of reason.