We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day – We defend free speech for all

But we cannot allow freedom of speech to become a casualty in the fight against anti-Semitism. We already have a plethora of restrictions on speech and protest, on everything from ‘hate speech’ to disruptive demonstrations to ‘grossly offensive’ messages. Misgendering someone on social media. Protesting against the monarchy. Telling a police officer she resembles your lesbian grandmother. Brits have been handcuffed for all of these supposed ‘crimes’ and more in recent years. And the cops’ warped priorities only underline why we cannot hand the authorities the power to decide what is and isn’t permissible to say. They often come to rather eccentric conclusions. Beyond direct incitement to violence, thuggish protest or harassment – which are not speech crimes at all, but rather crimes that involve speech – even the most hateful and extreme speech must be permitted. If for no other reason than it safeguards our own freedom. We defend free speech for all, or for none at all.

Tom Slater

26 comments to Samizdata quote of the day – We defend free speech for all

  • Kirk

    See my comment in the thread just below this one. Not going to bother repeating the rant, but the mere fact of what Mr. Slater describes here has certain… Implications.

    I’d say England is lost, at this point. The smarmy gits convinced you that you were wrong, and that you needed to give up your right to exist when they brought in your new electorate. You did nothing. You’ll get nothing, in the coming years, and it will be because of your own lack of self-confidence and moral strength to stand up for yourself and your rights.

    Compare/contrast the treatment that Mr. Slater points out for all the various non-“woke” protestors; you’re a white supremacist, if you try to express anything that ain’t in keeping with “woke”. You’ll be arrested for silent prayer; for pointing out the truth of things like Rotherham. For standing up for yourself, as a plain white Englishman.

    At this point, if you stay in England, which is obviously no longer your country, if these things can stand, well… You’ll get what you have coming, laid in for you by your own “leadership”, who haven’t been looking out for your interests since at least Churchill’s last term.

  • mike

    I recently had my Twitter account permanently suspended because of comments I made about the latest Israeli-Palestinian episode. I said if I were in their shoes I would level Gaza city. The argument that my comments were “incitement to violence” is, given the context, ridiculous. The Palestinians are going to suffer and die not because of daft comments I made on the Internet, but because some of their number actually planned and carried out terrible atrocities.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    The ONLY acceptable restriction on such speech is if it is a direct incitement to violence. And here is a thing: I have seen people online make excuses for the shouting of the word “jihad” on the grounds that it literally means “struggle” in English, so that’s an acceptable use of English. Well, why don’t the protesters at least speak and write in English in the first place when they are in the UK, because for 99.9 per cent of people, that word “jihad” is associated in their minds with violence, not a “struggle”, such as a struggle to catch a train, complete an exam or deliver groceries to a supermarket on time by 7 am.

  • Steven R

    “Kampf” is German for struggle. If I had a bunch of whites chanting “Mein Kampf!” I wouldn’t be able to get away with saying “oh, it means my struggle, it doesn’t have any other connotations at all.”

  • Lee Moore

    If for no other reason than it safeguards our own freedom. We defend free speech for all, or for none at all.

    He was doing pretty well up to this point.

    Unfortunately the authorities would happily bite his hand off at “or for none at all.” At present, we will do well to hang on to free speech for some of the people, some of the time.

  • Penseivat

    If a Muslim agitator shouts “Kill the Jews. Behead them all”, as has recently been reported, can a British, Jewish, Police officer take this as incitement of threats to kill? I wonder.

  • Paul Marks

    Agreed – if a mob want to chant “Gas the Jews” or burn Israeli or British flags let them do this – and show what scumbags the mob are.

    But it must be a two way street – people must also be allowed to chant things the left does not like (against Muslims – or whoever) and burn things the left does not want burned.

    The Herbert Marcuse doctrine that “oppressed and marginalised” groups can never be the bad guys (“black people can not be racist towards whites – because racism is about the Power Structure”) must be rejected. The concept of “Hate Speech” and that only “oppressor groups” are, by definition, capable of it – must be rejected.

    As for the alliance between the Marxist Atheist left and Islam – it is a very strange (indeed bizarre) alliance. But it is a matter of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” – the “Capitalist West” (including Israel – for which the left has a special hatred as Israel was “meant to be” socialist and then “betrayed” the left by turning capitalist) is the enemy of both – so they make common cause.

    If (when?) the “Capitalist West” is exterminated – then the Marxist “Freedom of Speech is Repressive Tolerance” left and the forces of Islam will turn on each other.

  • Paul Marks

    Israel is an interesting case.

    The decline of the various communal living experiments, and the increasingly conservative nature of society.

    The massive “protests” by the left (pushed by various American forces – both private and government agencies) were officially against judicial reform (limiting the power of self selecting judges to make up “law”) – but they were really against the evolution of Israeli society (the Israeli Polity) over more than 50 years.

    Essentially alone of all Western countries – Israel has got more conservative (less leftist) over time.

  • Kirk

    The failure of the kibbutzim ain’t exactly an accident, either.

    Jamestown here in the US was founded on similar lines; property owned in common, yadda yadda yay. So, too, were a bunch of other utopian societies like Oneida.

    They all went the way of the dodo, foundering on basic human nature which tells the freeloader “Don’t do more than you have to…” and the hard worker “You’re a chump, ‘cos freeloader Fred over there ain’t working as hard as you are…”

    There are only a couple of places where socialism really “works”, and that’s down at the family level with Mom and Dad raising the next generation of kiddies. Also, with the military; you try freeloading there? Sergeant Arsehole will be along in a moment to show you the error of your ways, and you’ll soon be hard at work at the coalface or you’re gonna be regretting most of your life choices…

    So, all that Israel has done is prove out that idealism and all that jazz about communal living don’t really make much difference to changing human nature. Too bad, so sad…

    I’d speculate that you might make kibbutzim work in an environment where you had no damn choice, and your neighbors were willing to break heads when you didn’t carry your fair share of the load, like in some military frontier colonization effort, or perhaps in deep space. Those are entirely different deals, though, and the natural human tendency towards selfishness and self-interest are going to be the rocks and shoals upon which all such enterprises founder.

    All this would be is reality asserting itself. Just as it has throughout history, everywhere and everywhen it’s been tried.

  • Bulldog Drummond

    I’d say England is lost, at this point.

    But Scotland, Wales & Northern Ireland will be fine?

    Anyway, you lot are the ones with senile Joe Biden as your boss, and you’ve got Kamala Harris waiting in the wings to look forward to when he falls off the perch 😀

  • Kirk

    Never said we weren’t far behind… Just pointing out that that which was England has been euthanized pretty effectively.

    Here in the US, I’m still able to wave my national flag. Waving the Union Jack is apparently illegal in a lot of circumstances. We may both be circling the drain, but I think you’re a bit further ahead in the queue.

    Not that I’m gleeful about either situation, mind you. Just pointing it out for fair warning.

  • Bruce

    Actual “free speech” lets everybody get to see the “nature” of the speakers.

    What happens after that is a whole different matter.

    If you want to take “risks”, do so on your own dime.

    Remember, “Offence cannot be given; only TAKEN”. There is that great scene in “Roxanne”:


    The US Bill of Rights, (the “Amendments”) starts off with a Free Speech clause. It is, very specifically and with very good reason, followed by the famous “Second Amendment”.

    Three guesses what “right” will fall NEXT, if the Second Amendment “falls”?

    Second two guesses don’t count.

  • Colli

    What is the general principle which makes incitement to violence wrong? I feel it should be, but I am not sure how that is justified.

    It doesn’t seem that punishment can be justified on the grounds of self-defense, since an incitement to violence is not a threat of violence.
    Also, some forms of incitement to violence seem like they should be okay, such as encouraging people to defend themselves.

  • Kirk


    What is the general principle which makes incitement to violence wrong? I feel it should be, but I am not sure how that is justified.

    I find the question you ask difficult to comprehend, in that it’s such a basic thing to human behavior that I’m unable to imagine ever having to have to conceive such a query.

    It’s basic schoolyard behavioral logic: You don’t do that crap, you don’t allow that crap, and if you do countenance it, you’re going to be living in a real-life Lord of the Flies scenario pretty damn quickly.

    The same sort of thing is going on with “incitement to violence” that you have with wolf or coyote packs out at night on the prowl, hunting. You hear the yip-yip-yap of that stuff? That’s the predators nutting themselves up, getting confidence, ensuring that they’ve the numbers, the power… Then, too, it is also the predators psyching out the prey, making them fearful, likely to do stupid things. It’s all of a piece with the crap you see at Nazi rallies, Arab sympathizer demonstrations, and all the rest. It’s wilding behavior, and if you allow it, you’re just setting the stage.

    It’s like that same thing that happened to the Ceaucescu crew at Timisoara; there they were, at one of their little forced-popular rallies, and suddenly… Everyone realized that they and everyone else was no longer cowed, no longer in fear of the Ceaucescu mob. To include their enforcers. This is what led to them being dragged out and shot down a few days later…

    The “incitement to violence” stuff is the human version of wolves and coyotes howling on the hunt; if you don’t short-circuit that crap, you’ll regret it. That’s why you have to nip it in the bud; it’s the same thing you get with “club supporters” or sports fans; the cries, the shouts, the whole cheerleading thing: All equivalent to the baying of the hounds…

    This is so basic a question that it almost feels as if an alien had asked it… I mean, it’s totally valid, but… At the same time, it’s such a “no-brainer” that I’m a bit at sea for how to respond to it. I mean, how do you not notice these things, growing up among human beings? How separate do you have to be from the normal ruck of humanity and other predatory animals not to notice their behavior, how they work in groups?

    The justification for tamping this sort of thing down is right there at the instinctual level. If you don’t do it, then you’re setting conditions for even more violence down the road, because when the pack/mob feels like they’ve the power, then they’ll use it. And, the baying? That’s how they communicate.

    Mobs and other groups of people are very much a separate thing from the individuals making them up. The military, if it knows what it is about, knows how to take advantage of that and what needs to be done to activate these things. All those “silly” things you see soldiers doing? That’s all meant to work at these levels, in these ways. The shouts, the challenge-response deals out in front? Those are the signatory deals wherein the pack is unified in its purpose; that behavior is completely natural, completely normal for groups.

    Then again, in today’s deracinated times, maybe nobody notices these things, and it all has to be taught.

    Frankly, I’m a bit aghast that this sort of thing isn’t well-understood such that you’d even have to ask this sort of thing, but… I look back, and I can’t even recall having this sort of basic thing ever being taught or explained. We just did it. Maybe I was the only one standing there in formation and thinking about “Why”… Which I suppose, makes me the strange one.

  • Kirk


    Actual “free speech” lets everybody get to see the “nature” of the speakers.

    What happens after that is a whole different matter.

    If you want to take “risks”, do so on your own dime.

    Remember, “Offence cannot be given; only TAKEN”.

    Mmmmkay… As a general principle, freedom of speech has to be an unlimited thing, or it doesn’t work. You have to be able to say unpleasant things that others don’t like, because those things are true, even though they don’t want them to be…

    And, this ties in with what I’ve always said about rights including duties and obligations. You have a total right to free speech, but… You’ve a responsibility that comes with that right that implies you’re not going to use it in order to do what Colli is talking about: Raising up the hue and cry of the mob.

    You’ve got the absolute right to do that. You’ve the duty not to, and if you do, then you’ve also got the accompanying obligation and responsibility to be held accountable for what happens afterwards.

    You’ve also got the responsibility to act, to shout down the other jackass that’s inciting riot, or your “absolute right” to free speech is eventually going to go away, because you’re not being responsible about it. That’s the rub, with all these things.

    In the end, it all boils down to what it takes to live among other humans peaceably. If you’re using your freedom of speech to constantly incite unjustifiable violence against witches, unbelievers, and Jews, wellllll… Don’t be real surprised when the victims of all that shouting get together and put a muzzle on your stupid ass. If you’re a bystander watching, and you don’t do something about the asshole going after the witches, unbelievers, and Jews, don’t be too surprised to find your “right to free speech” vanishing along with the asshole’s rights.

    You want to maintain your “right” to something in a society made up of people? Then, you’d better pay attention to the accompanying implied obligations and responsibilities, or the polity is going to decide that those “rights”, God-given though they may be, are going to have to be restricted in order to make civil life bearable for everyone.

    No “right” in a civil society is absolute, really. Not in practical terms, anyway… There are always going to be restrictions set in place by what other people will put up with. If you’re a Christian in a society made up of Muslims, you’ve perhaps got a God-given right to your beliefs, but if you think you’re going to be able to express them without the rest of that society turning on you…? Yeah; there are practical hard limits to all of these things, and that’s the sad fact of having to live with other irrational human beings in groups. You’ve the absolute right to a lot of things, but don’t be real surprised when others object severely to you exercising those rights…

  • bobby b

    October 28, 2023 at 7:01 am

    “What is the general principle which makes incitement to violence wrong? I feel it should be, but I am not sure how that is justified.”

    A USA-centric response:

    This is from The Fire.org:

    In Brandenburg v. Ohio (1969), the Supreme Court of the United States held the First Amendment does not protect speech that is “directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.” Mere advocacy of lawbreaking or violence remains protected speech as long as it is not intended to and likely to provoke immediate unlawful action.

    It’s a fairly narrow exception to the idea that we get to say what we want to say. It has to be very narrow and targeted – “let’s all burn that damned _____’s house right now!” kinds of things. You can tell people to shoot their attackers, or fight in self-defense – you can tell them to do lots similar violent things without triggering this, because you’re telling them to do legal self-defensy things. It’s only prohibited to tell them to do unlawful things.

    Is that what you were asking?

  • Kirk

    It’s a fairly narrow exception to the idea that we get to say what we want to say. It has to be very narrow and targeted – “let’s all burn that damned _____’s house right now!” kinds of things. You can tell people to shoot their attackers, or fight in self-defense – you can tell them to do lots similar violent things without triggering this, because you’re telling them to do legal self-defensy things. It’s only prohibited to tell them to do unlawful things.

    Which is where the serious issues lay with the “woke” doing their best to turn “speech” into “violence”. You conflate the two, and pretty soon you can’t express an opinion, no matter how innocuous, that’s against the prevailing “woke wisdom”, ‘cos “That’s VIOLENCE”.

    Again, you have the right to free speech. For now… It’s under erosion, because people aren’t picking up on the accompanying responsibilities, duties, and obligations to tell these “woke” degenerates that no, they don’t get to put speech off-limits because they’re offended by it.

    You’ve the absolute ideal right to free speech, even in a Nazi prison camp. What you don’t have is the absolute right to escape the consequences of that speech in that camp. The “natural right” is going to be constrained by the environment you’re in, just like it is when you don’t tell your wife she looks fat in that outfit… You’ve the absolute right to tell her, but common sense and the desire for a peaceful home life means you don’t take advantage of that right. Same-same elsewhere in any social setting.

    Incitement to violence is always there for you. You have that absolute right, but you also have to face the fact that the consequences will and should come down on you for what you do with that. You gin up a mob to go burn out the local pedophile, only to find out that said “pedophile” is actually a pediatrician whose sign-painter made an unfortunate mistake…? Well, yeah… You have the right to do that, and now you get to find out the hard way that inciting the mob has repercussions.

    Rights imply responsibilities and duties, or you won’t keep said right within the context of society’s protections and permissions.

  • Kirk

    And, there are some possible scenarios where “inciting mob to violence” might actually be a net social good. Consider a case where you had a modern version of the Barbary Pirates coming down on your community, like the Mumbai killing spree of a few years ago… Get out there and “incite violence” in self-defense of your community, and Hey! Presto!!, you’re a hero.

    Do it to burn out those nasty dark-skinned people that dared move into your town? You’re a monster.

    Absolute right is there, it’s the collective judgment of society that leaves you either lionized or hanging in the wind.

    I think that there’s a bit of a conceptual problem with this whole “right” thing; yes, you have rights. Natural rights, ones that God gave you. What you don’t have are those rights without social limits placed on you by the rest of the society that you’re a part of. You’ve got the right to free speech; God gave you a mouth. What you don’t have, I’m afraid, is the general OK of the rest of the monkeys you live amongst to say whatever comes into your mind whenever you feel like it. Sucks, but that’s a limitation on things, unless you want to live in isolation and just talk to yourself.

    Even then? There are some limits, self-imposed, because if you keep speaking freely about how lonely you are and how life isn’t worth living, you’ll likely find that your subconscious mind is taking you at your word and then doing what the subconscious mind usually does…

  • bobby b

    What we have, pursuant to our US Constitution, is a prohibition on our government imposing a restraint ahead of time on our speech for content-related reasons. “Prior restraint” is the bugaboo in the mix – they cannot tell us ahead of time that we can’t say bad things about blacks or whites or Jews or kale or . . . whatever.

    The exceptions are really less related to the concept of speech than they are to the concept of aiming and firing dangerous weapons – of causing physical harm. If I have great orator skills and a following of people who will do as I say, I cannot aim them at someone nearby and pull the trigger – by telling my followers to go hurt that someone right now.

    And then you get into the deep woods when corporations that control public forums do their own “prior restraint.” You have to figure out if they’re doing it at the behest of the government – which is verboten – or if they’re just controlling their own property on their own impulse – which is okay. That’s why Matt Taibbi’s work was critical to social media and the US government. It showed that it was government pushing the banning agenda.

    And, yeah, we all still get to enjoy the consequences of what we decide to say out loud. If I stand outside on Broadway Avenue in North Minneapolis and scream certain words, I’m going to get hurt. Nothing in the Constitution affects that – it neither says, “no, you can’t say those words there”, nor does it say “no one gets to interfere if you do”. It just says government should stay out of it unless there is imminent danger of physical harm to someone. (Which is why the cops can escort a sign-waver out of a hostile crowd even when he doesn’t want to leave. They’re avoiding physical harm and keeping the public peace.)

    (Again, all USA-centric. If someone want to know more, this is a good essay on the subject. Just ignore all of the “we love the ACLU” crap – it’s an ACLU essay. They used to do great stuff.)

  • Paul Marks

    There was a recent example of this.

    On his GBNews show – Neil Oliver denounced the war as being about money and greed, and in case anyone did not understand what he meant, Neil Oliver then interviewed Colonel Douglas McGregor (perhaps the leading apologist for Mr Putin) who declared that Jews had bought Congress (money Jews buying American support by paying politicians – it was that crude a bit of Nazi style propaganda) – and trotted out other anti Jewish tropes (while Neil Oliver nodded away).

    Should Neil Oliver and Colonel McGregor be allowed to behave in this disgraceful way? YES they should.

    We can not, honestly, claim Freedom of Speech for ourselves – without also defending the Freedom of Speech for the haters of Jews.

  • Alisa

    Sunlight Is the Best Disinfectant

  • TMLutas

    For anyone declaring that a polity is lost, I believe that there is a moral obligation to explain what victory would look like and why it’s not achievable. Sometimes, you’ve got no choice but to do a Dunkirk and regroup on a longer road to victory. But if there is no pathway to victory and your counsel is just to turn your face to the wall and die, you’re doing Grima Wormtongue’s job, which makes you an enemy, not a realist.

  • Paul Marks

    Alisa – it is indeed.


    One fights till one can not fight any more – because one is dead. There is no “turning your face to the wall”.

    A person, a free will human being, fights to the bitter end, if bitter it must be. Hopefully doing deeds that are worthy of song – even if there is no one left in the West to sing of them.

  • Alisa

    or Jews or kale or . . . whatever.

    How can anyone possibly say a bad thing about kale???!!! 😛

  • Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker) Gray

    Alisa, I have always hated the spelling. It should start with a ‘c’. ‘Cale”, see? Hope this clarifies things.

  • Fraser Orr

    For anyone declaring that a polity is lost, I believe that there is a moral obligation to explain what victory would look like and why it’s not achievable.

    Victory would look like a restoration of basic rights, an embrace of the idea “by the content of your character not the color of your skin”, a restoration of sane government spending, a cessation of constant overseas wars of choice, a restoration of free markets in some of our most basic things like medicine and banking.

    But there is no possibility for these victories in the USA or UK. Not because of politicians — the are always vile and venal — but because of the people who simply don’t support these things any more. Who support ideological identification over their own self interest. Perhaps the most clear example of this was the 2022 election in the USA. The results were breathtaking — a people who knew what Biden government looked like — soaring inflation, out of control spending, bringing us to the brink of nuclear war, heck can’t even buy baby food — and still it was to all intents a victory for them. What about the UK? The Tories are so far left they’d make Nye Bevan blush. But why are they so far left? Mostly because that is what the British people want. One need only look at the embrace of the most brutal tyrannies associated with Covid, which people absorbed like compliant sheep, to understand the root of the problem.

    If the people want this — what do you suggest? There are no options for the USA or UK, the best you can do is slow it down a bit. Elections? They make it worse not better. Armed rebellion? Do you have the stomach for that? I don’t. And even if I thought such a thing were a good idea, which I don’t, victory is not possible since lovers of liberty are a tiny fraction of the population. What? Would you force others to accept your liberty ideas at the point of a gun? It seems rather a contradiction. Revolutions are for overthrowing governments not populations.

    But if there is no pathway to victory and your counsel is just to turn your face to the wall and die, you’re doing Grima Wormtongue’s job, which makes you an enemy, not a realist.

    But there is a path to victory, just not the way you seem to think. It reminds me of a person’s first love — when they broke up it was tragically painful, and for a long time after they lingered thinking that that person was the only one to make them happy, and the only way back was to get him or her back. But eventually they both move on, find new loves and leave the old behind.

    If you love your country I’m afraid it is time for a divorce. There are two options, either you create for yourself a bubble where you can deflect most of the bad stuff coming your way (you might consider Harry Browne’s somewhat out of date book on this.) or alternatively consider moving to a different country where these problems are much less severe. Where? some options are Costa Rica, Uruguay, Dubai, Singapore, Switzerland, some of the Caribbean islands, but there are 195 countries in the world. You might want to see what options are available before you say “there is nowhere to go”.

    However, if you think you are going to fix the USA or UK (or Canada, Australia or New Zealand) you are laboring under the delusion that you’ll be happy if only she comes back to you. I’m afraid it is time to face facts, and all the talk or Dunkirk is just a fantasy.