I am delighted to be one of the participants in the upcoming public conference on the media’s “right to offend”, being held on November 1st at University of King’s College in Halifax.
The title of the conference says it all: the right to offend. Free speech is meaningless if it applies only to inoffensive speech. The meaning of free speech is that it must be free from other things, including other admirable things, like good manners, political correctness, or the ideological fashions of the day. That’s not to say there is no antidote to offensive speech. There are plenty, ranging from ignoring the offender, to rebutting him, to condeming him to socially ostracizing him. But none of those remedies involve the government and its unlimited power.
Naturally, I would love to attend this conference, but I’m not sure it is the wisest use of my Legal Defense Fund, now that those legal procedings having moved into Stage Two (i.e. the lawyers trying to reach a settlement)
As I say in Ezra’s comments, maybe it is just as well I don’t attend the conference, as one participant is a guy I insult in my new book: that journalism prof who criticized Steyn (and whose criticism contained a laughable typo that stayed up on his site for days — what a pro, eh?!)