Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Free speech and self-restraint

Martin Wolf had an interesting editorial in today's Financial Times. In "Freedom of Speech Is a Right but Self-Restraint Is a Virtue", Wolf examined the boundaries of free speech and spoke against the effective censorship that is brought about by pandering to political correctness.

He recognized that there are instances when an idea or comment may seem rude, ignorant, or even deplorable, but that those ideas should exist so that they might be freely accepted or rejected. Conversely, statements within the bounds of free speech might be held back out of some sense of pragmatism (a desire to avoid inflammatory devices) or a regard for others. With freedom comes (hopefully) maturity. A quote from Wolf's commentary:

"Freedom of speech is a way to thruth, a bulwark against tyranny and a sign of the value we place in the human capacity to judge...There is no courage and little benefit in telling society what it wants to hear."