Tuesday, November 29, 2005


Fear of serious injury cannot alone justify suppression of free speech and assembly. Men feared witches and burnt women. It is the function of speech to free men from the bondage of irrational fears. Louis D. Brandeis "Whitney v. California"

If there's one American virtue that has been unabashedly embraced by the permanently dissident domestic left, it's freedom of speech. It is the one thread of the national fabric they cling to as indispensible to their purpose, whether that is to live as eternal critics, or genuinely bring down the sociaety in the name of some utopian other.

Especially when that right to speak out is the right to slam and insult religious bigots.

Blasphemy is the word that the majority hisses into the ears of the few. Each church has accused nearly every other of being a blasphemer. The Catholics called Martin Luther a blasphemer and Martin Luther called Copernicus a blasphemer. Pious ignorance always regards intelligence as a kind of blasphemy. Some of the greatest men of the world, some of the best, have been put to death for blasphemy. After every argument of the church has been answered, has been refuted, then the church cries, "Blasphemy!" Blasphemy is what an old mistake says of a newly discovered truth. Blasphemy is the bulwark of religious prejudice. Blasphemy is the breastplate of the heartless. The Infinite cannot be blasphemed. Robert G. Ingersoll, from his summation in the 1887 case of a young man brought up for trial under an old New Jersey statute against blasphemy. Ingersoll argued the case for free. The jury found the defendant guilty and sentenced him to $25 and court costs of $75, which Ingersoll paid.

The "Free Speech Movement" was a centerpiece of the anti-Vietnam War counterculture of the 1960s.

All free people, whatever political stripes we wear, ought to be proud of this Western ideal. Anyone who cares to stand up for what he thinks will, one day, find himself with only the parchment of the First Amendment between himself and a mob of trouble. The more minoritarian you are, the more often those days come.

Except I just did a search, including archives, at DailyKos for various combinations of "Theo van Gogh" and got nothing. Zero, zip, nada.

Van Gogh was murdered in the early morning of Tuesday November 2, 2004, in Amsterdam in front of the Amsterdam East borough office (stadsdeelkantoor) on the corner of the Linnaeusstraat and Tweede Oosterparkstraat streets. He was shot with eight bullets from a HS2000 (a handgun produced in 2000 in Croatia) and died on the spot. His throat was slit, and he was then stabbed in the chest. Two knives were left implanted in his torso, one pinning a five-page note to his body. The note threatened Western governments, Jews and Hirsi Ali (who went into hiding). The note also contains references to the ideologies of the Egyptian organization Takfir wal-Hijra. [Wikipedia entry]

So when did statements like this:

Standing up for free speech in the face of religious fanaticism should be automatic for anybody who understands the classical liberal principles upon which Western society was built.

Become the exclusive province of the American right?