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The right to be offended, which is the other side of free speech, is therefore a genuine right.

True belief and honest doubt are both impossible without it.

Even if the case is ultimately resolved in favor of Mr. These police actions include arresting a protester for asking a policeman “Is your horse gay?

The argument used, especially in colleges, is that “words hurt.” Thus, universities, parliaments, courts and various international bodies intervene promiscuously to restrict hurtful or offensive speech—with the results described above.

A woman protests a speech by Geert Wilders in Australia in 2013. Wilders’s 2008 film ‘Fitna’ interweaved passages from the Quran with clips of jihadist violence.

Agence France-Presse/Getty Images The new censors advanced such arguments as that “free speech can never be an excuse for racism.” These arguments are essentially exercises both in begging the question and in confusing it.

Surely such things can’t happen in the land of the First Amendment? In recent years, their attacks on free expression in the U. have generally been prompted by a philistine discomfort with provocative art, from the “Sensation” exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum in 1999 to the more recent flap over “The Death of Klinghoffer” at New York’s Metropolitan Opera.

Not in quite the same way, perhaps, but a libel suit brought by the climatologist Michael Mann against the opinion writer Mark Steyn, National Review magazine (with which I am affiliated) and the Competitive Enterprise Institute for their criticism of his temperature projections still poses a chilling threat to free speech and scientific debate. In Britain, the sitting Tory home secretary, Theresa May, long resisted efforts to reform a catchall law regulating speech that the police have enforced with extraordinary zeal and no sense of proportion.


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