Monday, September 22, 2008

Watch that Nose Under the Tent

Austin Dacey and Colin Koproske have important things to say about ongoing efforts to undermine free speech in particular and human rights in general:

[S]ixty years after the issuance of the world’s first and greatest statement in favor of universal human rights, both the document and the institution put in place to protect its ideals ... are threatened more than ever. There is now an alternative human rights system, infused with religious language and layered with exceptions, omissions and caveats. The movement toward “Islamic human rights” (IHR) has been successfully presented to the Human Rights Council (HRC) as merely “complementary” to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
It sounds so innocent -- "complementing" the UDHR with concerns for the sensitivities of religious believers. But the elimination of free speech begins in just this innocent-sounding way; it is the nose under the tent sniffing around for reasons to erect strictures, barriers, limitations.

We must insist on the right to offend, as the right to offend is inseparable from the right to think, speak, read, and write. The person who cares about anything is susceptible to offense; we might as well place limits on caring as place limits on giving offense.

The Center for Inquiry has the complete report.

(H/T Ophelia Benson)

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