Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Freedom of Speech

Juan Cole is peeved that Desmond Tutu has been disinvited from speaking at some Catholic university (University of St. Thomas) because of his anti-Israeli record. Today he posted on this subject for a second time. I happen to think the disinviting is a mistake, and articulated this as a comment to his blog that agreed with him while not fully agreeing with him. He seems to have decided not to give me the freedom of his pulpit for my partial agreement with him. So as usual, I post it here. And, yes, I'm enjoying this.

Here's my response to his post:

As an Israeli, a Jew, and a staunch Zionist, it just so happens that I agree with these professors, and, by extenuation, with Prof. Cole. Freedom of speech includes the freedom to speak nonsense, to tell lies, and certainly to be offensive to people. In some cases, it can even be beneficial to lovers of freedom and truth to hear for themselves how their enemies hold different values, and the Iranian president's recent comments about homosexuals in Iran serve as a fine example.

Archbishop Tutu's past comments on Israel have often been factually incorrect, uninformed, and, as I remember from his visit to Yad Vashem where I work, willfully malicious. But they never crossed the line to active incitement to hatred, and I can't see any reasonable ground to try to silence him. Indeed, there are prominent Israelis who's criticism of their own country is even more willfully wrong-headed, and it would never occur to us to shut them up.

The same, of course, goes also the other way. Speech which is hurtful to, say, Muslims, must likewise be given public platforms.

No comments: