Saturday, November 18, 2023

What is free speech for?

In a new article at Postliberal Order, I discuss the teleological foundations of, and limitations on, the right to free speech, as these are understood from the perspective of traditional natural law theory’s approach to questions about natural rights.


  1. "If we don't believe in free expression for people we despise, we don't believe in it at all."
    --Noam Chomsky

  2. There should be no limits to free speech at all.

    "Be silent no more! Cry out with one hundred thousand tongues. I see that, because of this silence, the world is in ruins, the Spouse of Christ has grown pale; the color is taken from her face because her blood has been sucked out, that is the blood of Christ, which is given as a free gift and not by right." - St. Catherine of Siena, Doctor of the Church

    Holding one's tongue to avoid looking like a fool has more risk. Speaking your mind is the safer bet.

    1. But make sure truth is perceived with love

  3. Your article about natural law theory and free speech cannot be read without a subscription.

    1. True, but you can read enough to get a good start.

      It seems a bit odd to me that a Catholic is attempting to derive objectively true moral or ethical assertions from some sort of analysis of human natural ends.

      I mean, isn't Jesus or Yahweh or the Holy Spirit or somebody like that, as portrayed by those claiming to write in god's name, supposed to be the source for defining what is objectively good or bad?

      Of course, you don't have to look too far to find many sorts of debauchery portrayed as good in the bible. Further, god was notably silent on forbidding rather obvious evils such slavery, rather, seemed to just give a couple rules for its administration.

      So, maybe the idea for a Catholic is that god speaks through his works as well as his written word. Ok, fair enough, but I have a question in that case.

      How does one distinguish analysis of god's material works from atheistic scientific analysis?

      Seems like the same basis. Analyze our material world, consider observable factors in human behavior and human flourishing, and write down some set of standards or principles based on such material observations.

      Fine, but that is just atheist ethics, which is all "natural law theory" amounts to.

      Yet Dr. Feser attempts to smuggle in the word "objective". Really? How did that suddenly become possible on atheistic ethics?

      How exactly does Dr. Feser propose to get an objectively true moral "ought" from a material observation "is"?

      The claim of objective good from Natural Law theory is patently specious. Dr. Feser should know better.

    2. Some truths of natural law can be deducted from observation and reason, like the evil of killing a innocent. Others depend only on God's revelation, and cannot be deducted, like the Eucharist being the body and blood of Christ when consacrated, and so our possibility of uniting with Him to sttengthen our soul. .

      In any case, there can be no contradiction between both, as truth is only one, and is God.

      But most natural truths, although deductable, are not easily so, and God'revelation, including the subsequent authority give to the Church in discerning moral law in continuity with God's Word, helps solve the difficulties found in deducting natural law. Atheist a are lost in many issies because they lack the Word of God.

      The Best example is marroage. We can deficit that true love is unconditioned and eternal, but it very to be misled by unclean natural inclinations, such as sexual desire for other women than your wife, selfishnes for not sharing property, etc. that leads to think that marroage can be broken freely.

      Makes sense?

  4. OP
    "But why believe in the first place that there is a moral right to free expression...Again, assertions are easier to come by than justifications."
    Indeed, the right to free speech versus the right to not be audibly assaulted is merely a matter of assertion, at base.

    That is all our ethics of rights can be, just our personal sensibilities. There can be no objective right or wrong about human rights, or other ways of framing ethics or morality. Objective morality in any of its forms is logically impossible. Arguments of the form employed in the Euthyphro Dialog rule out any objective basis for morality or ethics or assertion or rights.

    We can organize our subjective feelings into objective standards by attempting to express a set of principles, then apply those principles into a complex set of rules, and once we have those rules we can objectively state whether individual actions do or do not conform to those rules.

    But the rule set itself remains subjective at base, only a matter, ultimately, of personal sensibilities, which are just evolved moral intuitions, evolved mechanisms by which members of a social species interact subjectively.

    "Where moral and political discourse has effectively degenerated into a war of competing intuitions and sentiments, the remedy is to take things back to first principles."
    Doesn't change the fact of their subjectivity because such supposed "first" principles are themselves mere subjective assertions.

    "And whatever frustrates the realization of these distinctively human ends is objectively bad for us."
    Only in the sense of an objective standard, not an objective good. Human ends are a mix of selfishness, domination, and altruism. There is no single locus of human ends.

    Thus, the natural law analysis is hopelessly simplistic and fails to account for the obvious fact of competing and contradictory human ends.

    "In general, for natural law theory, rights function as safeguards on our ability to purse the ends toward which our nature directs us and fulfill the obligations imposed on us by natural law."
    Which is what atheists advocate in promotion of human flourishing. In that view, the good is defined as promoting human flourishing.

    Theists rightly point out that "human flourishing" is a fuzzy term that means different things to different people, and is in no way a basis for objective morality, but might lead to a written set of rules to form an objective standard.

    1. @StardustyPsyche

      Good is future-orientation, neutral is present-orientation, and evil is past-orientation.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. HolyKnowing - no offence, but your post is as clear as mud! Care to elaborate?

    4. HK,
      "Good is future-orientation"
      Ok, so planning to commit a vicious crime in the future is good.

      "neutral is present-orientation"
      Fine, so committing a vicious crime in the present is just neutral.

      "evil is past-orientation"
      Alright, so emulating past acts of charity and honesty is evil.

      I have some alternatives.

      "Natural Law Theory" is just atheistic morality.

      "whatever frustrates the realization of these distinctively human ends" as a measure of badness is just the atheists way to organize ethics according to human flourishing.

      A rather obvious problem with that approach is that so many different people have so many different ends and so many different ideas as to what constitutes positive or negative human ends.

      How do we gauge a positive human end from a negative human end? Perhaps the golden rule? Well, fine, not a bad start, but that just boils down to "I don't like it for me, so that makes it bad". Hardly a sound basis for the the claim of objectivity.

      W L Craig famously debated Sam Harris on morality. Craig pointed out that on atheism there can be no basis for objective morality, that is, assertions of moral good or moral evil that can be rationally shown to be objectively true.

      Craig was correct about that. Listening to an atheist defend moral realism is guaranteed to be a cringy process.

      Of course, moral realism on theism is just as cringy and baseless, but it is psychologically easier to superficially attribute objective good to an imagined super being, and then just not think about it much, or put out some disjointed nonsense in faux sophisticated terminology to defend the nonsense that is moral realism.

      Natural Law Theory is just another nonsensical attempt to claim objectivity from an atheistic moral framework.

    5. @Anonymous

      In stories, whether a character is good, neutral, or evil is contingent on how he's oriented in time.

      Good characters are looking towards the future. Neutral characters are living in the here and now. Evil characters are looking at the past.

      This is actually the mystical explanation of why some men are evil: they have something in the past that, due to consequences, they cannot let go of. And why the Catholic Church has historically warned against indulging in food and drink (enjoying the body rewires the mind to enjoy past experiences, thereby as a perverse effect causing past orientation).

      By nature, men are inclined to let go and look toward the future. Future-orientation is apophatic.

      I hope reading this comment will clarify things for you.

  5. Free speech is not an absolute right because it has a definitive end. If there cannot be restrictions to what can be said, there cannot be restrictions on what can be done.

  6. WCB

    Do far right "Don't say gay" policies and laws now popular with the far right count as censorship? And does natural law give religious believers rights to censor speech or actions religious people decide they want to ban? And hang natural rights on their prejudices as a rationalization why free speech must be limited by their opinion?

    What then is Muslims adopt that natural law rhetoric to ban speech they do not like?


    1. @WCB: Except there is no such thing as a "Don't Say Gay" law. The law states that sexuality (including heterosexuality) and gender ideology cannot be discussed in school classrooms from kindergarten to third grade (that's 5-8 year old children), and if it is discussed thereafter, the discussion must be age appropriate as defined by state law. Do you ever read anything but DNC talking points? Or are you in favor of grooming 5-8 year old children?

    2. WCB

      Don't say gay. Like in Florida, where DeSantis, leading the far right GOP, has tried banning drag shows. Only to have that effort slapped down by the courts on First Amendment grounds.

      Ain't free speech grand?


    3. Apparently, you do not read anything other than DNC talking points. Or maybe you are a groomer. DeSantis signed a law outlawing sexually explicit shows that allow children into them. It was struck down, but may well hold up on appeal. For God's sake, man, this week's DNC talking points are not gospel. They're rarely true and misleading when they are.

  7. Since WCB brought up "Don't Say Gay" policies,
    this article about Pope Francis is most appropriate and says much about his kindness:

    Italy’s transgender women thank pope for making them feel ‘more human’
    By Syndicated Content
    Nov 19, 2023 | 9:34 AM
    By Oriana Boselli, Antonio Denti and Philip Pullella

    TORVAIANICA, Italy/VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – The run-down beach town of Torvaianica is about 35 kms (20 miles) south of the Vatican.

    But for transgender women who live there it had seemed light years away until a rapprochement with the Catholic Church that began during the COVID-19 lockdown and led to an invitation to have lunch with Pope Francis on Sunday.

    Claudia Victoria Salas, 55, and Carla Segovia, 46, both Argentinian, were in a group of transgender people, among about 1,200 poor and homeless people, who attended the lunch on the Church’s World Day of the poor.

    To her surprise, Salas, a former sex worker, found herself seated opposite the pope, who is also Argentinian, at the main table in the auditorium, where the pontiff holds his general audiences in winter.

    “We transgenders here in Italy feel a bit more human because the fact that Pope Francis brings us closer to the Church is a beautiful thing,” Carla Segovia, 46, a sex worker, said earlier this week on the deserted windy beach of Torvaianica.

    “Because we need some love,” she said.

    Last week, the Vatican’s doctrinal office issued a statement saying transgender people can be godparents at Roman Catholic baptisms, witnesses at religious weddings and receive baptism themselves.

    LGBT rights advocates in the church welcomed the move while conservatives condemned it, accusing Francis of sending confusing signals about sexual morality to the faithful.

    Francis, 86, has tried to make the Church more welcoming to the LGBT community without changing Church teachings, including one saying that same-sex attraction is not sinful but same-sex acts are.

    At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Father Andrea Conocchia, the pastor of the Blessed Immaculate Virgin parish in Torvaianica helped the transgender community with food and other assistance.

    Parish resources were stretched at the time because many people were cut off from income, so Conocchia asked for help from the cardinal who runs the pope’s charities.

    As well as sending money, the cardinal arranged for them to have COVID vaccinations in the Vatican and to meet the pope.

    “For us, he is our saint,” Salas said of Conocchia last week.

    On Sunday, Conocchia arrived at the Vatican on a bus with about 50 poor from his parish, including transgender people, both foreign born and Italian.

    “This is a fantastic opportunity for all of us transsexuals,” Segovia said, as she entered the auditorium. “I send the pope a big kiss”.

    (Writing by Philip Pullella; editing by Barbara Lewis)

  8. I couldn't read the whole linked article, but the introduction takes the right approach. Before discussing free speech, it begins by setting out more fundamental principles.

    Whenever someone advocates for free speech, he already has ideas of what is good and he means speech within that context. And so the only real way to discuss free speech is with that approach.

    The thing about free speech in the abstract is that it's just an abstraction that has become unmoored from what it originally meant. And no one really believes in abstract free speech because it's not the sort of thing anyone can believe in.

  9. To follow up on that comment, to really have a discussion, you have to clear the ground first and get down to what you really care about and really believe in.

    In mainstream discourse, there are three main types of discussion. At the lowest level, you have con men who redefine words on the fly and are just trying to manipulate people. They don't believe in any of the principles they supposedly espouse, they are just trying to get people to do what they want.

    Then you have abstractions that have become unmoored from what they originally meant and people just repeat them out of habit. "Liberal democracy" is one of those.

    Then you have things that are true in a partial sense and worked in some times or places, but are far from universal. Many of the ideas taken for granted in the prosperous post WWII West are things of that nature. We had the most prosperous and wealthy society in history, but a very unusual set of circumstances aligned to produce that. There is no reason to believe the way things happened was a universal pattern.

    To really discuss things, we have to get past all of those and start at the most fundamental and important issues.

  10. Objectively speaking you don't have a right to say what is not true. You absolutely don't have the right to state something to be true that you yourself know to be false.

    Now do you have a right to say something is true that you think is true but might turn out to be false?

    Depends.... that last bit is where liberty lies.

    We all have a right to try to seek the truth. That is absolute.

    1. Very good. Our right to seek the truth is built into our nature as intellectual beings: even if a tyrant blocks many possible pathways toward some truth, he cannot eliminate our right to seek it, and he cannot prevent us from attempting other pathways.

      However, we seemingly have limits to our right to seek truths insofar as some truths are private truths or have restrictionneeds for the common good. Nobody has a right to know the pillow-talk between a man and his wife. Nobody has a right to demand learning national security secrets merely because he has "a right to truth". So, while truth in general is an absolute right, I think that there is no absolute right to each truth. Which is fine: that just means truth fits within the hierarchy of the good.

      All men, however, are ordered to God, who is the ultimate Truth, and everyone has an absolute right to know God.

      Now do you have a right to say something is true that you think is true but might turn out to be false?

      I would submit that you have a right to assert X that you think is correct but in fact is wrong, as long as you do that conformably with the rights of others. For example, you don't have the right to proclaim as support for X arguments that you already know are bad arguments, and you don't have the right to present as evidence for X "facts" that you have not actually investigated to find out if they are true, i.e. not done any due diligence. And you have no right to refuse to accept evidence against X merely because it would force you to repudiate X being true: you have no "right" to hold X regardless of all reason to hold not-X.

      Arguably, if X is known (by others) to be false, and you would know that X is false if you were to undertake a reasonable consideration of its proper status, your holding X is unreasonable and your publicly asserting X could amount to culpable harm to others. However, that you might harm others culpably doesn't, by itself, imply that the state (or society) always ought to interfere and prevent it: trying to do so might involve MORE injury to the state than just letting you spout your errors and (eventually) be corrected by those who have the truth about X.

      That is to say: that you have "no right to error" doesn't imply the state has a right to forbid your error.

    2. WCB

      Nobody has a right to say something not true? Protestant theologians claim the Catholic Church has strayed from the Bible and is a false religion. Catholic theologians claim it is the Protestants who have strayed into apostacy. Which claim is true? Who decides? Who should be censored on basis of not having the right to speak or write untruths? And both Catholics and Protestants tell us there is no truth in Scientology? Should we censor Scientology? Scientology was notable for efforts to silence Scientology critics who told the world about Scientology's belief in Xenu.


    3. Son of Yachov here.

      Today is my 31st anniversary and I am at home using my linux computer.

      Briefly well said Tony. I cannae add anything to it. Well said.

    4. Son of Yachov here.

      I have read WCB's post three times now.

      Can anybody understand it or explain it to me?

    5. Yachov,
      "Nobody has a right to say something not true?"
      That seems to be the core assertion WCB is disputing November 22, 2023 at 8:44 AM.

      His example is of conflicting claims to truth, raising the issue of who or what decides what is or is not true, and therefore, on the contention of the quoted assertion, who does or does not have the right to speak their opinion of what is true.

      Apart from what WCB might say, it seems the quote is a bit ambiguous. Is it a moral right, or a legal right? What are consequences of doing something one has no right to do?

      As a matter of law one has the right to speak untruth generally, unless that untruth meets the legal criteria for perjury, liable, fighting words, slander, etc.

      To lie, per se, is not illegal.

      But perhaps the author meant the quote in the moral sense, the assertion being, perhaps, that one does not have a moral right to speak untruth. Presumably the author was equating speaking untruth with knowingly and intentionally speaking untruth, as opposed to being honestly mistaken.

      In any case, Dr. Feser makes a claim to be able to derive objectivity from natural law. He should know better. One cannot obtain an ethical ought from a natural is.

      Objective moral truth is impossible, even in principle, under any circumstances, on god or any other asserted source.

    6. Hey Jim, I hope things are going OK.
      Can you expand on your statement that objectively speaking, one does not have the right to say that which is not true? take an example: Aristotle's saying that women have fewer teeth than men.
      on what theory of rights did Aristotle not have the right to say this? Surely rights belong to persons, no? And Aristotle was a person? The old-timers used to say, Error Has No Rights, but "error" is not a subject.

    7. @ficino4ml

      “Aristotle maintained that women have fewer teeth than men; although he was twice married, it never occurred to him to verify this statement by examining his wives' mouths.”

      ― Bertrand Russell, The Impact of Science on Society

    8. FICINO!!!! Whatsup!!!!!!

      Forget it that old meme is deid. ;-)

      Switch to serious mode.

      I would be glad too answer mate(BTW I am doing well).

      Objectively error has no rights. There is no right to claim objective error is true. For example, there is no intrinsic right for me to positively and unironically claim the Earth is a flat disk.
      It is clearly untrue and it would be an abuse of speech for me to assert it.  

      The only leeway we have here is we might not know something is wrong when we assert it to be true.

      Also as St John Paul II said error has no right but erroneous persons do. I cannot be forced to assert the relative "roundness" of the Earth against my will nor should I. But in the grand scheme of things I don't have a right to claim falsehood true in essence.

    9. Holy Knowing.

      How does Bertrand Russell know Women had the same dental care as men in Ancient Greece?

      Cause for all we know they dinnae....

    10. @SonOfYa'akov

      Good point! Also statistical methods of sampling populations were not discovered in his day. So for all we know "men have more teeth than women" was a good judgment.

  11. An interesting approach, and one probably better related to free political speech as recognized in our post enlightenment era, than to that right's most remote precursor manifestations in the do-called heroic age, and then later in classical antiquity.

    In fact, there are really only two ways to plausibly anchor a fundamental right to freely express an opinion so far as I can see: through the proposed process of teleological inference, or, on the basis of a raw assertion of the right which is mutually recognized among actual social peers. In principle, this latter, originally among the fighting men, or those citizens fit for or even capable of self-governance [ both personal and political].

    But, as competency is nowadays increasingly fictive and imputed rather than actual, the latter style grounding of the right becomes evermore abstract and hollow.

    No longer does one have Achilles calling out the dog eyed doe hearted Agamemnon to his face, or Samr prosecuting Hrfankell in the Althing (whose life Samr unwisely spares).

    Instead, and insofar as the right is not conceived of as teleologically rooted rather than as simply emergent, its basis is in this latter descendant case increasingly fictive, imputed to members of a class in-name-only, having no shared enabling or empowering attributes whatsoever.

    When Odyseus beats the ugly Thersites, the incident shows how narrowly cirumscribed is the right which emerges from the natural powers and respectability of those whose life competency and social standing make them count as worthy and who thereby qualify as moral peers.

    The key to understanding the absurdity of the system of "progressive" morality is that it is nonreciprocal; but neither is it as in Christian morality based on natural complementarity, affinity, recognition of states of dependency, and the concepts of competency and wardship.

    Instead, progressive "morality" is a "demurrers not accepted" invitation to a leper's orgy. It is the Brotherhood of the Miscreant and Resentful. Or as the supposed "liberal" John Rawls put it more tactfully he hoped, as a "comittment to a shared fate".

    I do not say that the athiestic alt-right concept of bioleninism is completely sound. But I do say, look at the faces of these progressive freaks and crazies, read their histories so far as known, and tell me if you actually think that they are competent to enjoy standing as moral peers having a say in your life.

    As a moment of comic relief, think on the remark of one of Marx's university friends that Marx was among the ugliest men of his set. Squalid profligacy, entitlement, and murderous rage were not his only "virtues". Think too on the progressive fixation on inclusion , acceptance and so-called "fraternity".

    The constant stategy of solidarity pimping engaged in by by the left becomes virtually self explanatory.

    That said, I am in almost completely libertarian on speech; and 100 % on the formulation presented in the Frst Amendment.

    That also said, I'd also let the crazies die in ditches of their own digging, and lose no sleep over the demise of some preening manic depressive on the shores of Weehawken because he could not control his slanderous mouth in an age where a therapeutic state had not become all "excuse-ive" and intervening.

    Probably was the only good thing Aaron Burr ever did accomplish while in office.

    1. Are you a theist DNW? If 'yes', are you a Christian theist and of what stripe? If 'no' , what are your theological commitments?

      Given the frequency and length of your posts here I think these are legitimate questions to ask, so we know the ultimate basis from which you write. At least one other commentator has already asked you about this, but your novella of a reply left us just as perplexed as ever.


  12. "Are you a theist DNW? If 'yes', are you a Christian theist and of what stripe? If 'no' , what are your theological commitments?

    Given the frequency and length of your posts here I think these are legitimate questions to ask, so we know the ultimate basis from which you write. At least one other commentator has already asked you about this, but your novella of a reply left us just as perplexed as ever.

    You're perplexed? I'm perplexed at your supposed perplexity.

    What are you, the hall monitor? Some volunteer bandwidth meter reader? The neighborhood busybody?

    And I'm also perplexed as to why some anonymous guy who either fears or will not trouble himself to even put up a local identifier with his combox comments so they can be tracked to one author, should be so blisteringly lacking in self-awareness as to even ask such a question of another. One would think you would be too embarassed at the entitlement, and ashamed at the sheer, childish impertinence of your demand, to even make it.

    Perhaps that is why you choose anonymity? More eunuch than hall monitor?

    I can fully understand a priest or an untenured academic philosopher wishing to drop a one-off comment on a contentious topic and evade woke blowback or doxxing ... but you, in confronting another?? What's your excuse?

    As for why I am visiting here again after a substantial hiatus in commenting, it is because Ed Feser writes interesting timely things about important and even socially contentious topics from a philosophical perspective.

    Here, let him explain:

    My primary academic research interests are in the philosophy of mind, moral and political philosophy, and philosophy of religion. I also write on politics, from a conservative point of view; and on religion, from a traditional Roman Catholic perspective.

    You will note how he has in terms of his public focus as a philosopher, listed his range of engagements.

    For some reason, in more recent times, he seems to have attracted a blog readership that skews heavily toward groups of seminary material on the one hand, and Krylenkoite new atheists pantomiming real human beings, on the other.

    I don't recall that it was always so.

    This may not be the answer you were seeking, but it is the one you are getting, and probably more than is deserved at that.

    1. "Are you a theist DNW? If 'yes', are you a Christian theist and of what stripe? If 'no' , what are your theological commitments?

      Given the frequency and length of your posts here I think these are legitimate questions to ask, so we know the ultimate basis from which you write.

      If you read his comments carefully, you would already have a broad, general outline of DNW's cast of mind. He leaves small components of them in his comments. Over time, that's enough to allow a reader to estimate "the basis from which he writes" sufficiently to converse with him fruitfully.

      I, for one, greatly enjoy his use of language, the breadth of his reading, and the perception of his insights. I might not enjoy them quite so much if I were sometimes the target of his sharp barbs, but frankly, maybe I would :-).

    2. Dear me DNW, you do have serious psychological issues do you not? My post was a perfectly fair inquiry, given the longevity and extent of your postings here, and the frankly opaque nature of your fundamental theological convictions. It certainly did not merit your bizarre and angry diatribe as a response. Where on earth did that come from?

    3. DNW has been here from the beginning. Some of his posts are opaque, some are brilliant, some are just his own mundane musings, but they are so elegantly written that they are a joy to read. That is what makes him unique. He need not explain himself to anyone.

    4. Tony 2.50PM

      I do not have time to wade through acres of his past posts in order to build up a 'broad, general idea of his cast of mind'. In any case, my querie was about something more specific - the nature of his theological commitments. I suspect that you haven't a clue what they are either. He certainly does not appear to be a Christian theist, and is personally damaged, as indicated by his rage and lack of sensitivity and decency when referring to - for example - autistic people and those with bipolar disorder.
      As regards his use of language, he is a verbose windbag with bizarre, convoluted sentence construction - a terrible communicator. But you would already know all about windbags wouldn't you 'scholar,' Tony?

    5. 'scholar,' Tony

      I take it as a compliment that apparently I come off as being a scholar, given that I am not a professional scholar but do aspire toward speaking more about things I have studied in some depth than the level of merely common opinion. I have never claimed to be a professional academic, so the scare quotes are entirely applicable, and I don't consider them a negative at all.

  13. Dr Feser
    Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.

  14. Honestly, reading Twitter etc sometimes makes me think we should get rid of the first and fourth amendments and have the military read everyone’s online posts and lock up people like Elon Musk

    1. Yes, we definitely need a military dictatorship in this country.

    2. I never understood opposition to the First Amendment.

      The Truth is strong. Lies and nonsense are weak. Lies and nonsense never win in the battleground of ideas. So there's never a reason to fear men speaking.

    3. Lies and nonsense never win in the battleground of ideas.

      Those of us who are Christians know that the fullness of truth will eventually be revealed. But in the meantime: Satan won one battle with deceiving Adam and Eve; Satan wins battles all day long when he successfully tempts us to sin; Satan won many huge and grave battlegrounds when he installed idolatrous worship of demons in many nations; Satan wins immense battle fronts when he gets people to buy into false philosophies and false ideologies that last and last. Obviously, some lies often do win out for years, generations, even centuries. And even if you need not fear a lie because it won't ensnare you, it might ensnare your neighbor and many others.

    4. @Anymouse

      I like your handle transformation Anonymous -> Anymouse!

    5. There’s a huge difference between dictatorship and the military stopping speech that endangers lives, such as hate speech, climate change denial, and anti-vaxxer speech.

    6. There’s a huge difference between dictatorship and the military stopping speech that endangers lives, such as hate speech, climate change denial, and anti-vaxxer speech.

      That's precisely what a dictatorship is. Whoever is in power gets to decide the limits of hate speech, and those who disagree with the party in power are forced to live under threat of military force if they speak out.

      Case in point, one person finds it painstakingly obvious that a male cannot be a woman, while another finds that view to be hate speech. Should the military be sent if the latter is in power?

      Pro-life views are also considered hate speech by many on the left. Send in the tanks? What happens to Richard Dawkins and ilk if devout Christians run the military?

      You don't use the military to control speech. That's a dictatorship.

    7. But no one has ever died from someone telling them that women don't have a penis. Nor is it motivated by hatred anyway. Marching and shooting "jews will not replace us!' is motivated by hate and endangers lives. So does climate change denial and anti-vaxxer speech.

  15. Blasphemy laws never really went away, they just changed the objects of reverence that you are not supposed to insult. If there is some topic it is illegal to discuss, or at least it is *highly discouraged*, chances are it is a matter of reverence for the state religion, the majesty of which cannot be slighted.