I received an email this evening from some people apparently in Europe who do not understand the meaning of freedom of speech.
Our organization is suing the bible and the koran for sexism, homophobia, call for murder etc. . . . to support a text that would regulate the sale and distribution of those two books in Europe.
To regular readers of my blog, it is almost like a chant.
A right to freedom of speech is not a right to freedom from condemnation for what one says or writes. Indeed, condemnation is itself speech and one of those things that people have a right to.
However, a right to freedom of speech is a right to freedom from violence. It states that the only legitimate responses to words are words and private actions - those actions that one my freely perform without justifying them to anybody.
This lawsuit is a threat to use violence against people for what they say. It is a promise on the part of those who launch the lawsuit to respond to words with violence.
Lawsuits, like the ones being advanced in this email, are attempts to shut people up with threats of violence. "If you are caught saying these things that I hold ought not to be said, then people will come over intent on doing you harm and will do more harm to you if you should also decide to offer resistance."
I not only condemn the lawsuit, but I think that the people who are behind it should have known better. They should realize that any time a culture adopts a policy of using violence to shut up ideas they do not like, they will inevitably shut up some good ideas with the bad. They should also know that they are replacing argument with weapons and potential bloodshed or, at least, threats of bloodshed.
These are not good places to go and this is nowhere that a person with good desiers would want to take us.