Freedom of Speech and Fear

The ever insightful  Mark Steyn correctly points out that free speech isn’t a gift or a privilege to be granted or withdrawn by Ivory Tower bureaucrats. Free speech is a right. Glenn Reynolds follows up with:

Well, people need to be more afraid of the good guys for a change, anyway, and not the savages.

I disagree. Fearing the good guys isn’t much better than fearing the bad guys. Too often, the good guys become the new bad guys. Rather, lets be clear about what we reward. Reward behaviors that shun, shame, and mock bad behavior. And, when appropriate, punch back against bad behavior twice as hard.

This has me wondering if there is a play for the broken windows theory that would work here. By slapping down the minor offenses would the major ones be less likely to occur? But then again, there are many major offenses in play – honor killings, massive murders over implied or imagined offenses to a spiritual leader, bounties for individuals practicing free speech, and on and on. I would hope things haven’t become too far out of hand that they can’t be reeled in, but we still seem to be reeling. That’s makes the task increasingly more difficult.

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