Thursday, February 22, 2018

Clifford Orwin: What Would John Stuart Mill Think About Today's Campus Free Speech Debates?

Good piece by my former professor with some thoughts about free speech in general and the Lindsay Shepherd inquisition in particular

"This rejection of adverse opinions as "unsafe" would have driven Mill up the highest wall in Westminster. He argued the opposite: that we are safe only for so long as we are exposed to opinions contrary to our own – safe from our unfortunate proclivities to sloth, narrowness and prejudice, safe from forever riding in triumph over the corpses of straw men. He thought that there was no surer sign of a bad argument than its holder's insistence on its immunity to challenge. He also held that once any group claimed for itself the pious right to police unwholesome views, woe to any that differed from its own. Mill thought this the clear lesson of history – and he was right."