‘Every idea is an incitement’

In every debate where I am defending unfettered free speech these days, somebody will inevitably ask the question ‘But what about incitement to violence?’. The crime of incitement is widely seen as the killer argument against allowing speech too much freedom.

The hidden danger facing our society today, however, is not that wild-eyed Islamist or Islamophobic orators will incite violence. It is the danger of the meaning of incitement being broadened beyond recognition, to allow the authorities to crack down on ideas and opinions that they and others might simply find too offensive or hateful.

  • canminuteman

    There are plenty of people who could use a good dose of violence. What’s wrong with pointing it out?

  • Pon Wup

    I haven’t read the whole article but my first impression is that “incitement” is not an act that criminally violates anyone’s rights. It is acting upon the incitement that is the crime. However, that doesn’t produce the incentive necessary for governments to restrict our rights hence their focus on incitement.