Eric Posner wants us to understand that we “value” freedom of speech much too much. Because, after all, the rest of the world doesn’t see it the way we do, and thus, one gathers from his article, we should become more like them. In the title to his article he says we “overvalue” the right of freedom of speech. Here’s what the hoary whisper of oppression sounds like:
This is that Americans need to learn that the rest of the world—and not just Muslims—see no sense in the First Amendment. Even other Western nations take a more circumspect position on freedom of expression than we do, realizing that often free speech must yield to other values and the need for order. Our own history suggests that they might have a point.
He goes on to give examples of our history where government has been less than supportive of the right.
Notice what he values more than free speech? Order. I wish I had a dollar for every pop-gun totalitarian whose clarion call was for “order” over other rights.
You see one of the acknowledged problems with freedom is it’s messy. That’s right, people get to make choices you don’t agree with and, even more importantly, get to act on them without your permission.
That’s just too “messy” for some, like Posner. Instead we sh0uld voluntarily curtail our freedoms to placate mobs and murderers half a world away because they choose to become violent over something someone said.
Posner spends the rest of the article trying to defend his premise and sound reasonable. Interestingly it devolves into a secondary attack on conservatives who apparently use this wretched overvalued freedom to oppose such wonderful and valuable things like hate speech laws and political correctness.
Make no mistake about it, at bottom, this is an appeal for speech codes and legal remedy for speech those like Posner find to be “invaluable” for whatever reason – in this case “order”.
Putting this to the old libertarian test, i.e. “freedom = choice”, it flunks. It limits or removes choice in the face of mob violence half a world away. It gives in to people who chose to be violent.
Anyone with more than a day on this earth knows that such a move would only encourage more acting out by those mobs. They sack an embassy, we clamp down on our own rights. Any time they can dictate a limiting of our freedoms with their actions we essentially play right into their hand and they win. For some reason, those like Posner can’t see the dark hand of al Qaeda and other violent radical Islamic gangs behind this. And the first thing these cut-and-run cowards suggest we do is limit our freedoms to placate those who would willingly kill us if given the chance?