Must avoid offense (on penalty of …)

by Walter Olson on October 9, 2012

Yet another law professor, this time Harvard’s Noah Feldman, suggests suspending First Amendment protection to placate offense [Newsday, Volokh, Greenfield] As background, in Britain, “Channel 4 has cited concerns over security as the reason for cancelling a planned screening at its headquarters this week of a documentary film questioning the origins of Islam.” [Guardian via Volokh; Michael Totten, "The Terrorists' Veto, City Journal] Notes Ken at Popehat: “The context is one in which the decision to take offense is a political act.”

Ken has also stayed on top of this issue in other posts, noting, for example, that the Holocaust-denial laws already accepted in many Western countries pave the way for further restrictions on speech; that Greece has lately moved against mild religious satire; and that Great Britain is electing to unleash criminal-law enforcement against a broader range of Internet comment trollery.

Earlier on Eric Posner here and here; on Jeremy Waldron here, here, and here; on Peter Spiro here; Volokh on Spiro and Harold Koh here.


1 Black Death 10.09.12 at 11:05 am

How disappointing that a British television channel has cancelled a documentary on the origins of Islam due to threats of thuggish violence. An earlier Briton once commented on the effectiveness of this approach in dealing with a far more formidable group of thugs:

An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.

His name was Winston Churchill.

2 Anonymous Attorney 10.10.12 at 12:20 pm

You can have multiculturalism, or you can have freedom.

You can’t have both.

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