Friday, December 19, 2014

Voldemort Returns

A few thoughts regarding movie cancellations, cyber threats, and free speech:

The media often focuses on purported trade-offs between national security and civil liberties, but recent events suggest that defenders of civil liberties very much have an interest in a strong national defense.  Warding off the threats of rogue states, terrorist groups, and other unsavory actors can keep these forces from undermining the enjoyment of liberties (especially free expression).

The Founders established the institutions of the U.S. government in part to defend the liberties of the inhabitants of this Republic.

Defending freedom in part has to do with laws, institutions, military efforts, and so forth.  But this defense also involves the cultivation of cultural norms.  One of these cultural norms is, as Solzhenitsyn reminds us, the value of civic courage.

Those who threaten violence in order to shut down the voices with whom they disagree are usually coming from a position of fear.  The free exchange of ideas is not for the faint of heart.  Defending the idea of cultural conversation in the abstract takes intellectual courage, but so too does participating in that conversation.  We lose much by empowering those who seek to silence civil debate with threats of violence.

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