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« "Let thine eye look like a friend on Denmark" | Main | Crazy Sissy talks with the Harvard man* »

February 19, 2006

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"People who say or write inoffensive things need no protection."

My only real problem with this statement is that - we don't always know what someone will find offensive. This means that there must be laws in place to protect everyone - from those who are not trying to be offensive, to those who are offensive unintentionally, to those who work to be outright offensive.

For instance - as just a tiny example of what I mean. I met a young woman at a dinner. I knew her husband through a professional group and knew that they had recently had their second child. I asked her if she was working, meaning having a job outside the home. She took exceptional insult to the question and very huffily said - I WORK very hard at home with my children!

Now having raised two children myself - and having been a stay at home mom for 5 years while they were very young - I was not insulting her for not having an outside job - just asking a question. Yet, the end result is that she was very angry indeed.

This can happen any time with any set of people. So, yes free speech laws are certainly necessary - especially if you might accidentally anger someone in a position to have you thrown in jail.

To be clear, I was not suggesting that putatively inoffensive speech should not be protected. My point was sort of the inverse: that if the right of free speech means anything at all, it must protect speakers who say offensive things. Whether the speech is obviously offensive in advance or only becomes so after the fact (as was clearly the case with these cartoons) is immaterial.

Oops - looks like I misread. Not the first time I've done that... thanks for clarifying it TigerHawk. Sometimes I scan a little too fast trying to pick up everything quicker... it doesn't always work in my favor :-)

Around here, that's what we call "creative reading," Teresa. :)

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