Sunday, 11 May 2008

More Reasons Free Speech Is A Bad Idea (Not Really)

This story reminds me of a scuffle we had at the University a few years ago when the Christian Union was threatened with losing it's funding from the University, on the very reasonable grounds that if you're going to take money from everyone in an institution, you are honour-bound not to exclude anyone from that institution. In this case, the society wouldn't allow non-Christians in (as though there was a massive number of atheists with nothing better to do than go to CU meetings and wreck up the place), nor were women allowed to be President, even if they were prepared to sign the rather bizarre and faintly scary documentation swearing you would uphold the principles of the society. Loving your neighbour, homophobia, that sort of thing.

Of course, a society entirely based upon the fact that there is a God that loves everyone equally took one look at their sexist, exclusionary policies and decided not only were they blameless, but that they had the right to practice their ludicrous policies under the ideal of free speech. Legal action was threatened. I never did learn what happened, although since a society never gets anywhere against the University when they do have a legitimate grievance, as oppose to demanding funding for bigotry, I'd assume they didn't get too far.

This ADFS nonsense is pretty much the same thing. I've banged on more than once about this idiotic idea that free speech should somehow translate into the right to say whatever you want to on other people's dime. Free speech does not mean never having the obligation to keep your mouth shut. These people's position amounts to nothing more than demanding they receive goverment funding for the purposes of political wrangling. I wonder whether they'd be happy to take this idea to its logical conclusion, in which no-one can ever be censored in any way for anything they say. I could tell school children I'd like to see the laws against pederasty struck down. I could join the Samaritans and tell people close to suicide that the world is better of without their endless whining, anyhow.

Man, I hate people who dodge responsibility so much I could vomit.


Anonymous said...

this has nothing to do with freedom of speech

SpaceSquid said...

My point is simply that plenty of people misunderstand what "freedom of speech" means. The right to free speech is a wonderful thing, which means I get sick of people citing it when it doesn't apply. Being able to say what you like doesn't translate into being able to say what you like without consequences. I can call my boss an intolerable douchebag if I want, that's my right, but I wouldn't be surprised to be fired pretty damn quick.

It's a similar thing here. Free speech is a right, governmental sponsorship is not. Cutting your sponsorship because you're saying inappropriate things isn't violating the right, it's removing the priviledge.

In short, my entire point was that the ADFS was invoking free speech where it didn't apply. So I agree: this has nothing to do with freedom of speech. I know that. There's a clue in the post title.