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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Narveson: Freedom of speech, its meaning and limitations

Western Standard columnist, and professor emeritus of philosophy at the University of Waterloo, Jan Narveson gives us his take on freedom of speech and expression in "The meaning and extent of freedom of speech."

An excerpt:

"Those who seek protection from criticism of their beliefs are cause for concern. The oddly famous case of the Danish cartoons is a case in point. Did Muhammad and his followers in fact have the properties the cartoons implied? Isn't it important whether he did or not? (There's ample evidence against him: his followers murdered non-believers just for being non-believers, rather than sitting down with them to persuade them of their errors. John Stuart Mill did have the definitive word about such people: "There is the greatest difference between presuming an opinion to be true because, with every opportunity for contesting it, it has not been refuted, and assuming its truth for the purpose of not permitting its refutation." The Alberta "Human Rights Commission," as Mark Steyn points out, is wholesale into the business of protecting people in the latter way, against people trying to contest what they believe. That commission, and the province that supports it, have ample reason to be ashamed of themselves.)" Read more...

Posted by westernstandard on February 21, 2008 in Western Standard | Permalink


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Dr. N is back? After he admitted in the discussion of his previous article this: "I accept Fact Check's pronouncement that my entry was 'sloppy'. It was written in haste." I did not think he would be invited back. that is, unless article that are sloppy and written in haste meet your journalistic standards. So I might read this new one by Dr. N later ... once I have finished reading things by people who actually are putting some thought and effort into their writing.

Posted by: Fact Check | 2008-02-21 3:06:55 PM

>"The oddly famous case of the Danish cartoons is a case in point. Did Muhammad and his followers in fact have the properties the cartoons implied?"

What difference does it make?

Muhammad is dead.

The question is, "Is Muhammad considered to be representative of modern Islam as a whole to the infidels who made the cartoons"?

Well, do modern Muslims consider Muhammad to be the perfect Muslim man and one to be emulated?

Posted by: Speller | 2008-02-21 3:26:31 PM

I wonder where the writer stands on so called defamtion speech?

Posted by: Merle | 2008-02-22 7:20:54 AM

Gheez FC: The man admitted he was sloppy. From what I've read, he isn't often that way. Shall we drag him into the street and horse whip him?

Posted by: Veteran | 2008-02-22 11:09:31 AM


Horse whip? Oh, please! I'm just saying that if I hired a guy to paint my house and after he was done I pointed out flaws in his work and he admitted to doing a sloppy job because he was rushing, I don't think I would be so quick to hire him again.

So no, public flogging is not in order. But he has done a good job of convincing me that his article might - once again - be a waste of my time to read. Once bitten....

Posted by: Fact Check | 2008-02-22 11:41:06 AM

I will vouch that his writings are no waste of time. Everyone has bad days. Have you ever wrote anything sloppy? Ever? Should I stop reading your posts?

You know, once bitten...

Posted by: Veteran | 2008-02-22 11:55:08 AM

Professor Narveson's articles are always worth reading. As a general rule, he expresses the theories of freedom very well. It is true that the ideas he expresses tend to make Canadians very uncomfortable and anxious - hostile even - but it's not Professor Narveson't fault that Canadians are uncomfortable with the truth about themselves and the lies they have been indoctrinated with for a lifetime.

Where I am not so happy with Professor Narveson is his real-world commitment to the Libertarian Ideas that he writes about It's all very well to explain the hteories, and even do it well, but at some point one must put theory into practice - and in that regard professor Narveson has not done such a good job.

I refer, of course, to his time as a Director of the Libertarian Party of Canada. Dr. Narveson had the opportunity to address the "Freedom of Speech" issue in a comprehensive and meaningful manner when he held that position. In fact, I suspect he still has sufficient influence in the party that a few words from him would set the party bosses right - and they would cease censoring members on their party forum, facebook and newsletter.

A few words from Professor Narveson, and the Libertarian Party would begin to practice what it (and what professor Narveson) preach. This would be a good thing for the party, for the country, and would be a perfect opportunity for Professor Narveson to show that his theories actually do have practical positive application - and are ot (as some say)empty words of no great consequence.

Just a thought.

Posted by: Ken Wiebe | 2008-02-26 7:49:33 PM

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