Charles Crawford throws the last bucket of water on the “fire in a crowded theatre” cliche, which “underpins a puerile but sly collectivist argument that goes something like this:”
* we of course champion free speech as a core value
* but, of course, it has limits – as does everything
* for example, no-one accepts that someone who recklessly cries Fire! in a crowded theatre should escape official sanction
* by extension, anyone whose words cause or might cause any harm or distress to someone else has to be held responsible
* especially when those words are hateful or likely to be taken as hurtful by vulnerable people and communities
* and unfortunately there are lots of categories of hateful language which need to be regulated for these very sound reasons
* so the people who lay down the rules must be the people who have the best insights into these issues and the hurt caused by hate speech, as anything else would or could be hurtful
* which means us
* so, you over there arguing that marriage has to be defined as referring only to a man and woman – shut up. Now.
* and you too – criticising the Obama government when it is trying to put right all the fascist wrongs of Bushitler is tantamount to blocking attempts to stop hate speech, and so has to be stopped too.
* and by the way, if some communities or individuals are provoked beyond endurance by hate speech and start attacking or even beheading people, those who provoked them are to blame
* got all that?
* Now keep quiet.