“All people deserve respect. But not all ideas do.”

Johann Hari of the Independent gives a rousing defense of free speech — both “for people who are wrong and people who are right”:

Hari refers to his own plagiarism scandal at the beginning of the clip, but here he stands up for the right of his critics to justifiably blast him. And in contrast to Phil Plait’s emphasis on civility in his “Don’t Be a Dick” speech, Hari — echoing combative spiritual compatriots like Christopher Hitchens — defends the right to offend, and scorns the notion that the religious (or any other group of people) should be somehow exempt from the risk of being offended: “Nothing worth saying is inoffensive to everyone. Nothing worth saying will fail to make you enemies. And nothing worth saying will not produce a confrontation.” (Kenan Malik argues along similar lines here.)

Hari puts it succinctly: “If you don’t like what someone says, argue back. Make a better case. Persuade people. Get it right. Do it better. The best way to discredit a bad argument is to let people hear it.”


Some previous posts on religion and free speech here and here.

(via Richard Dawkins)


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