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Monday, August 16, 2010

Intellectual freedom: Why it is important and how it is under threat

I wrote this to an American friend recently, about the importance of intellectual freedom today:
I agree, but respectfully suggest that the main question is whether your country's government agrees.

Against much hostility and opposition, some of us got inserted into the Constitution of another (big and unimportant) country:

“Whereas [don't fall asleep] is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law:”

As a result, even the worst justices on that country's supreme bench have been forced to acknowledge that truth is a defense to libel.

By contrast, in Holland, which belongs to an EU system Constitution that pointedly excludes God, Geert Wilders was informed that it made no difference if his angry claims against Islam are true, if they "insult" Muslims.

That is precisely the difference we need to note. Excluding God means that truth does not matter.

The trouble with trying to found governments without God is that no one recognizes ideas like truth, let alone the rights and dignities of the human individual.

You might find that your mom is in competition with a baboon for health care - and she might lose, if some sentimental animal rights campaign starts up in favour of the baboon.

Big whoop. Your taxes are paying for the baboon's health care, but not your mom's. Group huggie! Group huggie!, right?

Look, there ARE people out there with nothing better to do, and all day to do it in. It is possible that some are funded by your taxes.

As I see the Comer decision (where a Texas education administrator was fired for advocating Darwinism), it set a limit on the extent to which a lobby can just take over government when most people actually think that the policy is reasonable, and represents a cultural consensus [= that reasonable challenges to Darwinism are permissible].

PS: I hold no brief for Wilders - like all free speech journalists, I am concerned about the principle itself. Here, a Muslim is free to argue that Wilders's claims are untrue, in any available forums, most of them free. But the Muslim takes the risk that he had better have an opposing case to offer, other than that he is merely offended. We have been in this battle for a while here and so far, we are winning! - d.

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