Lindsay Perigo: A 9/11 Salute to Free Speech, and Lament at Its Demise

Lindsay Perigo blogs about 9/11 and the demise of free speech:

“Freedom is the fundamental requirement of man’s mind. … A gun is not an argument.”—Ayn Rand

In my recent presentation, stopped short by evil Muslims, at Auckland University I noted the propensity for evil Muslims in civilised countries to take advantage of freedom of speech to hold demonstrations where they sport signs saying “Freedom of speech go to Hell!”

One wonders if these savages would be capable of giving a moment’s thought to free speech’s long, tortuous history, and if so, would they be given pause by it?

Those magnificent Greeks had more than an inkling of it—yet they infamously put Socrates to death.

The Enlightenment resurrected it after centuries of heresy-hunts and burnings at the stake. John Milton’s celebrated speech to the English Parliament, later published as the Aeropagitica (in deference to the Greeks), was an attack on Imprimatur, the literal stamp of approval one had to obtain from state censors on documents one wished to publish. (One could not obtain Imprimatur on anything attacking the Church of England or the Government.) Censorship of ideas, Milton said, was “the greatest discouragement and affront that can be offered to learning and to learned men.” Unfortunately, Milton made an exception of Catholics, since they were supposedly in thrall to a foreign power (the Pope).  

Then came John Locke, who did brilliant, original work in developing the concept of rights, including freedom of expression—except for atheists! Freedom of religion, it seems, did not extend to freedom from religion!

Locke did tumble to a vital distinction underpinning the case for free speech—the distinction between force and persuasion. Force he equated with governments; persuasion he equated with books. Persuasion cannot force, he argued; coercion cannot persuade. “Such is the nature of the understanding that it cannot be compelled to the belief of anything by outward force.” The use of government force as an instrument of persuasion, he believed, was wrong; for the Government to censor the content of books (except atheist ones) was improper.

One hundred years later, the United States’ first Congress sent off to the states, for ratification, the following Amendment to the Constitution: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” What an achievement! From primordial slime through countless millennia of grunting evolution and brute force to such magnificent words as those!

And of course, it would be remiss not to acknowledge the French playwright and anti-Catholic polemicist Voltaire, who in 1770 had penned the following in a letter to a priest: “Monsieur l’abbé, I detest what you write, but I would give my life to make it possible for you to continue to write.” This later became popularised as the classic affirmation, “I disagree with what you say but will defend to the death your right to say it.”

Then came John Stuart Mill, widely regarded as one of free speech’s foremost advocates: “If any opinion is compelled to silence, that opinion may, for aught we can certainly know, be true. To deny this is to assume our own infallibility.” Note, though, his over-arching view of when government force is justified: “… the only purpose for which power can be rightly exercised over any member of a civilised community against his will is to prevent harm to others.”

“Harm to others”? What does that subsume? It could cover any number of things, speech being just one of them, whose forcible prevention by the state would be profoundly anti-freedom. It could cover, for instance, hurting the feelings of others. It could cover withholding one’s earnings from others (Mill himself said that failure to perform certain charitable “duties” constituted harm). Would the exercise of governmental power then be warranted to protect people’s feelings by banning certain types of speech and to force people to perform their charitable duties? The contemporary incarnation of primordial slime—university lecturers and their slavish, mindless, quacking, upward-inflecting moronnial students—gleefully answer “Yes!”—as they enforce politically correct “speech codes” and “safe zones,” demand “hate crime” legislation, urge higher levels of taxation to fund more “free stuff,” etc., etc. And there is nothing in Mill to justify one’s saying, “No!”

Clearly, this won’t do. It’s a short, barely discernible step from “harm to others” to “injurious to the public good”—the indefinable notion that in one form or another underlies censorship legislation around the world. The imprecision of Mill’s argument has contributed to the dead-end of post-modernism whose pin-up boys like Stanley Fish write books with titles such as There Is No such Thing as Free Speech—and It’s a Good Thing Too. Free speech, says Fish, is a contradiction in terms; all speech is coercive. This is what, three hundred years after Locke, two hundred years after the First Amendment, we have been reduced to—as though Locke’s crucial insight distinguishing force from persuasion, so admirably crystallised in the Ayn Rand quotation above, had never happened.

But it did happen—and the pomo-wankers and the smelly Social Justice Warriors and the Islamosavages and all the other enemies of free speech know it. Some are so offended by it that they fly aeroplanes into buildings. Collectively, all of free speech’s opponents have almost succeeded in destroying it. The urgent imperative on civilised human beings is to restore it.



  • sandalwood789

    *Wonderful* stuff!

  • Andinz

    As it is a day of remembrance and as we remember the instigators of 9/11, the Islamists who have been enjoying paradise, I share one blog’s idea of “arguing” – as you are doing, LP, – “with muslims”. See here:

  • omlete

    On the bright side, the evil muslims did spare the audience the unholy torture of having to listen to Lindsay Perigo speak.

    • Michelle

      He was asked to speak and so it was his right to speak whether you agree with what he says or not

  • mcvac

    Islamosavage I think that is a very appropriate term- perhaps 9/11 anniversary provides the MSM a chance to remind us these TERRORISTS were muslims and end the shameful practice of using phrases like Asian men suffering mental problems…

  • JEL51

    “In my recent presentation, stopped short…….”
    Was this incident covered by msm for the public to ponder? I don’t recall hearing anything on radio news. Surely this is of concern and on a tax funded institution as significant as the University of Auckland. The public has a right to know of such, so why haven’t we been informed before this here on WO?

    “Western Values Defended” by Olivia Pierson, covers the similar ground in a much easier form to read.

    • mcvac

      The fact shouting muslims stopped the speech of LP was covered in WO
      THE MSM would not report Islamic students killed free speech at Auck Uni.
      After all was it a mass mental delusion amongst those islamosavage? .

      • JEL51

        Did I miss it then?Maybe it was when I was away. So,is it a major failing by msm again? Why am I not surprised?

        • Michelle

          No l don’t think it was when you were away is in only in the last couple of weeks it happened

          • JEL51

            Wo,if it is not due to my own inattention, I am really disappointed in my usual source of news then. Shows the Feral virus must have invaded the newstalk newsroom then.

          • Michelle

            Here it is

            WO put up this post on 4th September


          • JEL51

            Thanks M. My fault, I remember clicking on it & thought ‘come back later’ and didn’t. Shall go read in full now :)

          • JEL51

            Great read which should be available in all newspapers for all to ponder. Shall wait to see if any in msm follow-up after today.

          • Michelle

            Don’t hold your breath on that one or you will turn a funny colour
            If anything was in the MSM it would be from Dame Suzy with her angle on the speech and not a word of what Lindsay said

        • Michelle

          Dame Susan Devoy walked out when he spoke, she got in a huff and stormed out and it was covered on here
          It was a debate at the Uni

  • Duchess of Pork

    Indeed Lindsay 11 September is a day for remembrance and reflection on the future of western civilisation. Today I have remembered the tragic and needless deaths, 15 years ago, of those in the Twin Towers, the Pentagon and onboard aircraft. I have remembered the bravery of firefighters and medics who, at great risk to their own lives, helped others to safety. Sadly, many perished. I have thought about those shouldering the burden of carrying on without their loved ones; I hope time has brought some measure of healing for them.

    And I have read your blog Lindsay, you write so eloquently and encapsulate what so many of us are feeling. We do not want to lose our freedom. We are facing brutish powers that subtlety seek to infiltrate and undermine our way of life. They will and are using our freedoms against us.

    But tomorrow is the 12th day of September Lindsay and on that day, 333 years ago those same powers were defeated at the Gates of Vienna and the siege of that magnificent city was lifted; brave men ably led by the Polish king John III Sobieski turned back the foe, enabled the flowering of western civilisation and allowed Voltaire to pen his immortal words. We can do it again Lindsay, we can take back our countries and our freedom. Yes it will take fortitude and require new and dynamic leadership, but those leaders are emerging and we must follow them. What else can we do? Who would not stand together with Stephane Charbonnier and say “I’d rather die standing than live on my knees.”

    • JEL51

      Comment of the week.