Just Answer The Question, Rob

I see that Rob Breakenridge still hasn’t come clean on my challenge to him.  (See here, here, and here).

In his recent blog entry about me, he’s even gone so far as to say that I don’t believe in free speech.  You can read about it here.  For the record, his assertions are incorrect, facile, and pedestrian.  He has made assumptions that he should not have made, but to be fair to him, I have not yet had a chance to correct them or clarify my position.

Before I do so, however, I am simply asking him to engage this debate with some honesty and maturity.  So far, even though I have asked the question in two or three different ways, he refuses to answer the question.

Basically, I asked him if his position on free speech were to change if, instead of a religious figure being maliciously defamed, the same tactic were to apply to someone he loved or cherished.  My point was a simple one:  libertarians are rarely put into a situation where someone very close to them is publicly skewered.  The reason for that, of course, is that few of them can get past their philosophical nihilism and meaninglessness to their existence.  They sit there in their pompous “free speech” chairs clucking at their opponents and pontificating to them about the great virtues of “free expression”.  And yet, if, say, someone were to carve a statue of their mother or wife, spread elephant shit all over it (as they did with Our Lord’s Mother), put it out in display and call it “art”, would they be so as accommodating to the principle of “free expression”?

It’s a simple question, really. I simply want to know if Rob Breakenridge is going to hold firm to his absolute belief in free speech.  Either the answer is yea or it’s nea.   It’s not a difficult question, Rob. Just answer it.

I brought this scenario up to Rob – not to argue for or against the merits of freedom of speech, but to show him how so hypocritical those who are libertarian “free speechers” truly are.

And even if Rob were to say that he would have no legal problem with someone smearing elephant dung over a resemblance of his mother or that he would not resort to violence to correct the offender, it is not difficult to see how some of his more passionate friends might not want to be lumbered with the title “candy ass” – which, of course, proves my point.

And what is the point?  When you cross the boundaries of NATURAL JUSTICE, you cannot expect EVERYONE to respect the principle of “free speech”. 

If you come up to a man and insult his wife to his face, what fool would suppose that, in flattening the offender, such a man doesn’t believe in free speech?

A libertarian is like the sharp-tongued little pest in the playground:  he demands the right to insult, berate, and offend well beyond the natural boundaries of justice, and then becomes indignant when he gets a bloody nose from someone who’s had enough of his bleatings.  And what is worse, he is totally dumfounded to see the rest of the kids cheering at his pummelling, even though he’s just exercising his “right to free speech”.

7 thoughts on “Just Answer The Question, Rob

  1. John, it’s a pretty silly question and a pretty simple question – insults are not illegal. You may wish to punch me if I were to call your mother a bitch – understandably so – but there is no place for the state to intervene. You cannot call the police on someone who insults you. Again, from your own petition: “to silence any opinion, however seemingly offensive to any member of the public, is harmful to a free and open society.” What part of that don’t you get?

  2. Atheist Nietzsche spent the last thirteen years of his life in the darkness of insanity, while his christian mother prayed for him and looked after him by his bedside! Remember Nietzche was the one who coined the phrase God is dead and all the liberal-minded adopted it. Now some of these liberals call themselves new conservatives, but they remain liberals but adopt the conservative name. This should fool nobody. Not only does atheism’s worldview lead to the death of meaning, it also leads to the death of moral reasoning.

  3. Rob,

    I know what I wrote. Please don’t presume to patronize me or think you know my position. You obviously do not. I believe in what I wrote in the petition. If I get a chance, I’ll try to expand on it to show you how I can reconcile my seemingly competing views. My time is limited right now unfortunately.

    Of course, I agree that insults should not be prohibited by law (well, actually, they could be if they are a matter of defamation). But what I want to point out to you is how you reacted to the scenario I proposed. You said the reaction was “understandable”.

    Tell me, then, why is a violent reaction “understandable” and a non-violent one through peaceful political means to change the law not “understandable” to you? Do you have more sympathy or understanding for someone who chooses violent means rather than a non-violent one?

    All I wanted to show you in this exercise, Rob, was that EVEN YOU who purport to be a FREE SPEECH absolutist “understand” that someone might react negatively – even outside the law – when provoked.

    The point here is that “freedom” understood through a legal fiction with no moral boundaries is not a cogent or sustainable ideal IF IT DOES NOT RESPECT NATURAL JUSTICE.

    When you said that such a reaction would be “understandable”, you have all but conceded my point.

    For “freedom” to be a working ideal, it must be subject to some moral underpinning. If it’s not, then you conceivably have whole segments of the society “understandably” ripping your head off because you crossed the line. Do you see what I am saying?

  4. Pornography isn’t speech. Arguments in favour of or against pornography, ase we have here, are speech. Intellectual arguments are a defence against tyranny and abuse. Pornography is an antidote to nothing – we have more sexual abuse now than when pornography was tamer, more imited and its extremes illicit.

    Corruption and immorality spread mainly by example; pornography debases us all. It’s an invitation to indulge what would otherwise be hidden and base desires. Those desires seek to treat others as objects of gratification, rather than people worthy of sympathy and capable of nobility.
    John is absolutely right about where all this is taking us. Duh….

  5. Pacheco,

    You [Rob] have not acknowledged my point above. And I’ll tell you why. Social and moral libertarian leaning folks generally have no public targets that mean anything to them. They don’t have religious figures.

    Liberty is of an iconic nature to libertarians. Libertarians are committed to the liberty to speak freely. It is an article of faith, so to speak.

    Tell me, then, why is a violent reaction “understandable” and a non-violent one through peaceful political means to change the law not “understandable” to you?

    Because changing the law to limit liberty might provoke one of those “understandable” reactions amoung libertarians.

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