Why is free expression important to you?

September 23, 2014

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But there’s always that one thing. Something that’s just so heinous and awful that people shouldn’t ever say it. In fact, maybe we shouldn’t let them. Maybe someone should make a law against that. We look at the Westboro Baptist Church and Neo-Nazis and think, “why are they allowed to protest? Why can they say that? Someone stop them!” And it’s true, the things they say are vile. But if they can’t speak, who else can? What will the next “unacceptable” idea be? It’s a slippery slope that I think can best be summed up by this quote from Martin Niemoller regarding the Holocaust:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

You don’t have to respect someone’s opinion to respect their right to voice it. I hate the Westboro Baptist Church. I think the antivaccination movement is disgusting. The woman who is rewriting Harry Potter into some strange, twisted, prayer school fantasy needs serious mental help. But I have to support their right to spew their crappily researched and badly thought out positions. Because if I don’t speak for them, what right do I have to speak for myself?