Mark Steyn’s wisecracking style (“Using rights to gag free speech”, 14/9) fails to cover up the basic flaw in his 3000-word argument, one we are already familiar with from the very audible mouths of Andrew Bolt, Janet Albrechtsen, Brendan O’Neill et al, namely that any calling to account for the harm done by words is somehow a restriction of freedom of speech. By the same argument, laws against carrying a suitcase full of gelignite onto a plane restrict freedom of movement.
His dishonestly-told examples of prosecutions on behalf of unpopular victims like gays and Muslims are cherry-picked, and conspicuously absent are cases like those against Mel Gibson and John Galliano for anti-Semitic outbursts – does he regard these as anti-free speech as well? Does he reject the very notion of defamation? No, it’s just that he doesn’t regard certain classes of plaintiff as deserving of redress.
Steyn puts the words “racist” and “human rights” in quotes as if they’re not real words, and compares anti-racism to communism. “Let us accept for the sake of argument that racism is bad”, he graciously allows.
The professional loud-mouths of the Right don’t seem to be able to get it through their heads that no-one is opposing their free speech, only insisting that they accept the consequences of their actions like everyone else.