A slow examination of my conscience in the course of which I will try to keep my temper
Clearly I am not the free speech fundamentalist I sometimes think I am, because, as my friend Shutters points out in his comments to the Sacranie post of a couple of weeks ago, I do seem to think that people have some sort of duty - albeit not one to be enforced by law - not to offend gratuitously in polite society.
points out, the idea is being pushed in some circles that free speech advocates are fundamentalist secular liberal believers and morally and intellectually equivalent to Islamists and fundamentalist Christians. Now, clearly, inasmuch as liberal humanism is a slowly evolving work in progress rather than a set of ideas carved in stone, it is always possible to point to failings on the part of secularism that make this plausible - I'd welcome some comments to this effect, because I think them highly relevant. In what follows behind the cut, I don't define secular liberal humanism for precisely that reason. I would argue, however, that what I mean by it is a set of thoughts and behaviours that are sceptical, rational and humane, in which we examine not only ideas but also their practical consequences and question our own motives as much as those of others.( Collapse )