May 25, 2005

A Different Concept of Freedom

This report about the flamoyant Italian journalist Orianna Fallaci being put on trial for writing a book some Muslims found offensive highlights the difference between our First Amendment conception of freedom of speech and the European one, which is far more paternalistic, and perhaps in reaction to the Nazi era, criminalizes the expression of ideas and sentiments that minorities find offensive.

The concept, it seems to me, is that "tolerance" is something granted by the state that the state can modify or take away for reasosn based on "public interest."

American liberty, on the other hand, is not granted by the state, but is a limitation on the power the people permit the state to have.

Although imperfect in the execution, this concept is fundamentally different than the European, which is essentially a watering-down of absolutism rather than an expression of popular sovereignty.

Or so it seems to me.

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