UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

Harmful speech? : Free expression and the politics of recognition Cheng, Justin Philip 2007

Your browser doesn't seem to have a PDF viewer, please download the PDF to view this item.

Notice for Google Chrome users:
If you are having trouble viewing or searching the PDF with Google Chrome, please download it here instead.

Item Metadata


831-ubc_2007-0356.pdf [ 2.86MB ]
JSON: 831-1.0100794.json
JSON-LD: 831-1.0100794-ld.json
RDF/XML (Pretty): 831-1.0100794-rdf.xml
RDF/JSON: 831-1.0100794-rdf.json
Turtle: 831-1.0100794-turtle.txt
N-Triples: 831-1.0100794-rdf-ntriples.txt
Original Record: 831-1.0100794-source.json
Full Text

Full Text

HARMFUL SPEECH? FREE EXPRESSION AND THE POLITICS OF RECOGNITION by JUSTIN PHILIP CHENG B. A. (Hons), The University of British Columbia, 2005 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES (Political Science) THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA August 2007 © Justin Philip Cheng, 2007 Abstract This thesis argues that present free speech debates are unable to deal with speech that reinforces prejudicial understandings of marginalized groups. Addressing these forms of speech would require liberals to examine freedom of speech in the context of democracy. By recasting the discourse according to democratic considerations, liberals can retain the principle of free speech while addressing expression that reinforces stigmatization of minority groups. Using the Jylland-Posten cartoons as a case study, I argue that the imagery of the cartoons justified European suspicion and mistrust of the Muslim minority. The cartoons promoted the conceptualization of the Muslim as the outsider. Thus, European Muslims suffered injury as citizens because they were not treated as equal participants in democratic discourse. I contend that an absolute understanding of free speech is inadequate at explaining the relationship between speech and democracy. Situating free speech according to a democratic framework will assist society in finding concrete solutions to these deeply heated free speech controversies. TABLE OF CONTENTS Abstract ii Table of Contents iii Acknowledgements iv Chapter 1: Offensive versus Harmful? An Introduction to the Jyllands-Posten Controversy 1 Chapter 2: European Marginalization of Muslims 7 Chapter 3: Mill and Freedom of Thought-Aid or Hindrance 15 Chapter 4: Contemporary Approaches to Free Speech-Cohen and Fish 27 Chapter 5: Recognition and Free Speech 38 Chapter 6: Free Speech Revisited 51 Bibliography 58 iii Chapter 1: Offensive versus Harmful? An Introduction to the Jyllands-Posten Controversy The publication of the Jyllands-Posten cartoons instigated a debate over the issue of free speech. The debate became controversial, pitting some liberals defending the value of free speech against those who argued that the imagery of the cartoons promoted Islamophobia. I argue that present liberal theories of free speech are unable to address forms of expression that defame minority groups in society. These forms of expression, by reinforcing stereotypes, prevent individual members of minorities from participating as full citizens in democratic discourse. Thus, free speech issues must be evaluated in the context of democracy. By linking free speech with democratic considerations, we can find fair and productive solutions to these contentious debates. In September 2005, the Danish news publication Jyllands-Posten published a series of cartoons that sparked an outrage among Muslims. The twelve published cartoons featured depictions of the Prophet Muhammad with a bomb in his turban, the Prophet welcoming suicide bombers into heaven, and depicted Muslims with a dagger (Assyrian International News Agency 2006) \ At first the cartoons generated reaction only in Denmark. Ten Arab ambassadors appealed to the Prime Minister of Denmark to hear their concerns regarding the cartoons (The Independent 2006)2. The Prime Minister refused arguing that the cartoons were a matter of free expression and, therefore, not subject to government review. The controversy over the cartoons became a global issue when the Danish Muslim leaders circulated a document entitled Dossier championing the Prophet Muhammad. 1 , http://ww.aina.org/releases/2006020 1 143237.htm, Accessed May 29, 2007 2 hnp://news.independent.co.uk/world/iniddlc easl/article344482.ece. Accessed May 29, 2007 1 Peace be unto him at the annual Islamic conference in Mecca (ibid). The dossier included the twelve original cartoons, as well as additional cartoons that proved to be more controversial than the original ones published in Jyllands-Posten. It was this circulation of the cartoons that sparked reaction in the Muslim world. In Beirut, the Danish embassy was burned by protestors (CNN 2006).3 Less violently, Danish goods were boycotted by Muslims (BBC 2006).4 In response to the Jyllands-Posten cartoons, Iran's largest newspaper planned to hold a contest showcasing cartoons ridiculing the Holocaust. (BBC 2006b)5 Responding to these events, many liberal oriented publications in Europe argued that the protests amounted to a form of censorship. Flemming Rose, the culture editor of Jyllands-Posten, argued in an op-ed in the Washington Post that news publications cannot function if their editorial decisions are faced with protest and censorship by others (Washington Post 2006)6. The Economist also weighed in, arguing that the project of easing relations between the West and Islam should not involve restrictions on a newspaper determining which material to publish (Economist 2006). For some, the reaction from Muslims was excessive and bordered on impinging upon the classical liberal celebration of free expression and diversity. Free expression was viewed as under threat by the reactions of those who were offended by the publication of twelve cartoons. What is missing in this liberal description of the controversy is any consideration of whether or not the cartoons cause harm to people. I contend the cartoons were not just 3 lnip.7Avw\v.cnn.coiiV2()()6/WORLD/asiapcl/()2/()5/c;ii1oon.prolcsts/inde.\.htiTil. Accessed May 29,2007 4 l)ttp://news.bbc.co.uk/2/lii/curopc/5329642.stm. Accessed July 30, 2007. 5 http://news.bbc.co.Uk/2/lii/middlc east/470938().stm. Accessed July 31,2007. 6 htlp://ww\v.washingtonpost.coiii/wp-dvn/conlcnl/article/2()()6/()2/l7/AR2()()6()21702499 2.html. Accessed May 29, 2007. 2 offensive, but actually inflicted harm on people. The imagery used in the cartoons reifies and promotes anti-Islamic stereotypes and prejudices. These stereotypes contribute to an already hostile environment in Europe for Muslims. This insight complicates viewing the cartoon controversy as an issue of free expression. The free expression discourse generally discourages censorship of speech unless speech can be inferred to create direct and immediate harm. The example often cited is the yelling "Fire!" in a crowded theatre. I contend that the present discourse on free expression is unable to deal with speech that inflicts harm upon individuals and groups through the creation of stereotypes. I will also contend that to dismiss the issue as simply one of freedom of speech is to downplay and minimize the potential harms that are incurred against marginalized groups. Generally liberals have vigorously defended freedom of expression as an essential part of a fair and free society. In this spirit, the liberal defenders of the cartoons have viewed Jyllards-Posten as exercising its freedom of expression in their decision to publish the cartoons. Yet expression that has been seen as harmful, such as libel or hate speech, has generally been subject to certain restrictions. If the cartoons are seen as promoting harm, then a liberal society is justified in restricting their expression and transmission to prevent this harm. The issue of harm inevitably draws on more complex issues of multiculturalism and the politics of difference in Europe. The fact that the cartoons were published in the midst of increasing changes to the relationship between Europeans and Muslims is not simply coincidental. In Chapter 2, therefore, I will locate the cartoons within the greater context of European anxiety over Muslim immigration and integration. I maintain that one harmful aspect of the cartoons is that they give ammunition to those supporting more 3 restrictive policies towards Muslims in terms of citizenship and immigration. The imagery in the cartoons contributes to the already hostile atmosphere that Muslims often find themselves within Europe. Because the power of speech in politics is an important issue I explore it more fully in Chapters 3 and 4. In Chapter 3,1 examine further the arguments in Mill's On Liberty. The main liberal defences of the cartoons' publication stems ultimately from Mill's arguments concerning freedom of thought. I argue that Mill's arguments and those of contemporary liberal free speech defenders are lacking in this instance because of their inability to incorporate the issue of multiculturalism in their deliberations. Mill in particular tends to be suspicious of cultural arguments, believing that many cultures instinctively suppress progress for the sake of custom. Already in Mill, then, we see a tension between liberal views of free speech and tolerance for different cultures. Mill's arguments can help in illustrating the problem at the heart of the cartoon controversy. Two contemporary theorists, Joshua Cohen and Stanley Fish, have attempted to apply Mill's insights to present contemporary debates over free speech in ways that shed further light on this controversy. Both Cohen and Fish are aware that in the contemporary public discourse, "free speech" has become a potent rhetorical weapon in contentious debates over expression. Cohen relates expression to interests and places speech within the context of democracy. Fish argues that the very act of defining the limits of acceptable expression is subjective and political. Accordingly, Fish and Cohen both are critical of the "absolutist" free speech position which maintains that the value of free speech trumps all other values. Fish and Cohen recast freedom of expression in the context of democratic theory. Freedom of speech is a crucial element in the functioning 4 of a deliberative and democratic society. However, I argue that deliberative democracy requires things such as dignity and respect for its citizens. The freedom of speech issue must be able to address certain forms of speech that violate principles of dignity and respect. This makes it difficult for free speech theorists to cling to a simple absolutist view of free speech. In linking to democratic theory, Fish and Cohen broadens the discussion of speech from conventional politics where free speech claims often become a rhetorical weapon against those who question the legitimacy of a particular form of expression. An in-depth and extensive examination of free expression requires an analysis of its relation to other broadly held political principles. Fish and Cohen both offer some illuminating insights into the process of balancing free expression and other democratic principles. In multicultural politics, the issue of free expression ultimately needs to be supplemented with an awareness of the increasing importance of the politics of recognition. Ultimately, the harm incurred by the cartoons can be characterized as harm against recognition of people as members of marginalized groups. Neither Fish nor Cohen write about multicultural politics, but Fish in particular used a campus sensitivity code as a launching pad for his discussion of freedom of speech. Due to the changing demographics of western societies, many liberal polities are being affected by the reality of the increased visibility and political influence of minority groups. This increased engagement by minority groups has led to tensions over interpretations of liberalism. While freedom of expression has been defended vigorously by liberals, certain types of expression, such as hate speech, has been said to create harms for certain groups in society. Liberals also have tended to argue that the State is justified in preventing harm 5 done to others. The cartoon controversy brings together issues of free expression, harm and democratic inclusion. To assist in promoting inclusion in democracy, Charles Taylor's conception of recognition is helpful in articulating why the cartoons and other forms of expression can commit harms against minority groups. Taylor argues that there can be definite harms associated with misrecognition of minority groups by the dominant society. I argue that the cartoons themselves do evoke certain stereotypes and misunderstandings that can be harmful to the Muslim minority. Here, the concept of recognition allows us to enlarge the freedom-of-expression debate to acknowledge the harms of minority groups. Whether or not such harm necessitates measures such as censorship is a controversial issue. Still, the theory of recognition can enrich our understanding of harm and thus enables liberal societies to find solutions that can rectify these harms of minority groups. The theory of recognition is important in that it aids us in taking the arguments made by minority groups seriously and respectfully. Ultimately, I conclude that the present freedom of expression discourse needs to incorporate an understanding of the harms incurred by certain speech of groups in society. Speech such as the Danish cartoons is harmful in that it causes misrecognition, prejudice and stereotypes. As well, the present discourse on free speech is too simplistic to solve the complicated issues that emerge from speech that is harmful to groups in society. The theory of recognition would help in broadening our understanding of what constitutes harm to groups, and also can help in informing us of the power of certain speech to shape our approach to multiculturalism. 6 C h a p t e r 2 : E u r o p e a n m a r g i n a l i z a t i o n o f M u s l i m s One cannot see the Jyllands-Posten cartoon controversy as simply an issue of offending religious sensibilities. One must understand the impact of the cartoons in light of the overall relationship between Muslims and Europe. For many Muslims, the cartoons were reminders of their exclusion from the European discourse. To understand the extent of the harm done by the cartoons, one must examine the deeper political issues in Europe that were occurring in the backdrop. The cartoons did not emerge out of a vacuum. Rather, the cartoons emerged in the context of an anxiety among many Europeans about the relationship between Muslims and the prevailing idea of Europe which has Christian underpinnings. The treatment of the Muslim as the Other has been connected to old understandings about the identity of Europe. Talad Asad argues that European identity has been based upon a conscious differentiation of itself from Islam (Asad 2003 p. 168). Europe has been defined as not Islamic which is why Spain was considered non-European when it was ruled by Muslims (p. 168). Indeed as Asad continues, "Islam [is] Europe's primary alter. This alleged antagonism to Christians then becomes crucial to the formation of European identity." (169) Europe's historically antagonistic relationship with Islam places European Muslims in a marginalized situation. As people living in Europe, they find themselves in a political and social context that has historically been built and shaped by an opposition to Islam. While Europe increasingly has become more secular as church attendance has declined, there are concrete cases that demonstrate that there are vestiges of the historical exclusion of Islam present. 7 Two concrete cases come from Denmark, namely its education and welfare systems. The purpose of the Danish education system is twofold. One purpose is republican in nature, which is to make "creative, independent citizens.. .with respect for human rights" (Jenson 13). Interestingly, the other is cultural: "to make the children familiar... with Danish culture and be acquainted with other cultures" (ibid). The Danish education system strives not only to produce citizens, but to imbue their children with a knowledgeable sense of Danish culture. This goal assumes that there is a simple and stable concept such as "Danish culture" that can be differentiated from non-Danish cultures. One of the particular components of the cultural education program is that the elementary school curriculum includes the teaching of Christianity (14). The justifications for this privileging of Christianity are that, 1) Denmark is a Christian country and, 2) according to the Minister of Ecclesiastical Affairs, children need to be educated in their own religion before they can learn other religions (Jenson, p. 14). Implicit in both justifications is the assumption that the majority of Denmark identifies with Christianity at least in a cultural way, and that non-Christian religions are alien to Danish national identity. While Denmark does formally enshrine and respect religious freedom (Jenson 12), this formal constitutional provision is not seen to preclude policies that privilege Christianity over other religions. As long as people are not coerced to changing their religions, the elementary school curriculum can still include the teaching of Christianity. Because of this, non-Christians find themselves in an uneasy situation. On the one hand, they are free in their own private lives to practice or not practice their religious beliefs. On the other hand, Christianity remains dominant and supported by the state. 8 Unfortunately, this privileging of Christianity means that the beliefs of non-Christians are less valued and seen as outside the Danish culture. Because of this, non-Christians are conscious that they are excluded from the fullness of Danish identity. The formal constitution of Denmark recognizes and allows freedom of religion, but the emphasis on Christianity as integral to Danish identity and culture substantively excludes those who do not share the Christian faith. Another example of this exclusion of Muslims is the recent changes to the Danish welfare state. Historically, the functions of the Danish welfare system were to provide stability and a sense of belonging to citizens (Bird 2005, p.40). The welfare state was established based on the understanding that Danish citizens held certain things in common. Solidarity and mutual assistance were based on a feeling of sameness among the people. In recent years, however, the Danish state has to grapple with the issue of immigration. Denmark has passed certain regulations limiting the amount of welfare benefits for immigrants and tightening controls against further immigration (Bird, p. 40-41). As well, in the 2001 election, Danish politicians seized on the opportunity to blame the immigrant for destroying the peaceful and stable Danish state (p.41). What explains these changes? According to Karen Bird, the Danish welfare state, while ameliorating the disparities created by capitalism, was based on the idea of ethnic and cultural homogeneity. Welfare provision was justified on the basis of Danish solidarity and unity. This solidarity was rooted in an understanding that Danish citizens held certain things in common (p.40). This idea of Danish commonality and unity has been complicated by Muslim immigrants. Native citizens are seen as part of the Danish community and are seen as 9 deserving of welfare support. Muslim immigrants are viewed as the Other and, thus, elicit suspicion from many Danish citizens. Because they are viewed as different and not fully part of the Danish community, they do not inspire the same feelings of fraternity and national togetherness that native Danish citizens might inspire in one another. Some would argue that immigrants are required to assimilate in their culture and must accept the prevailing cultural and social norms of the country they are entering in. As Charles Taylor points out, states need to begin with a consensus on certain political questions in order to establish deliberative processes (Taylor 2001, p. 80). Historically in many countries this political consensus is tied to a "common language, culture, history and ancestry" (p.82). At a minimum, all citizens are required to be conversant in one language for the purpose of political discourse. However, many European countries demand more than learning the language as a pre-requisite for citizenship. For example, Third generation Turkish immigrants are still politically considered resident aliens in Germany because of the perception that they are considered distinct and thus alien from the German culture (Taylor 2001, p.82). Immigration in particular can be a source of anxiety for those who still cling to a cultural conception of citizenship. Immigrants complicate and unsettle conceptions of cultural belonging that European states have clung to historically. As Taylor explains: The coming of new kinds of people into the country, or into active citizenship, poses a challenge. The exact content of the mutual understanding, the bases of the mutual trust, and the shape of the mutual commitment all have to be redefined, reinvented. This is not easy, and there is an understandable temptation to fall back on the old ways and to deny the problem, either by straight exclusion from 10 citizenship.. .or by the perpetuation of "us and them" ways of talking, thinking, and doing politics, (p. 82) Increased immigration means the influx of new people which challenge the cultural bases of a national identity. There is a newfound awareness in countries like Denmark that a country's historically constructed culture is becoming inadequate and out-of-date if it no longer realistically reflects the changing population. States generally deal with this issue by either stubbornly clinging to their cultural identity—thus, creating measures intended to exclude and marginalize new immigrants—or by attempting to shape a new national identity that acknowledges the growing cultural differences among their citizens. Denmark, at least according the two above examples, can be viewed as attempting to take the first route. In following the first route, states undertake measures designed to shore up their cultural identity. France, for example, pursues measures of assimilation in which new immigrants are required to suppress their particular identities in public in favour of the national identity of the French Republic (p. 83). However, this solution increasingly is proving unsatisfying and problematic. For one thing, it presumes that culture is a phenomenon that is static and citizens can simply adapt to it easily. Related is the question as to whom or what defines culture? The Minister of Ecclesiastical Affairs in Denmark argues that Danish culture is tied with Christianity. The problem here is that what defines a culture is hotly contested. One might argue with the Minister that since regular attendance of Christian churches is decreasing, Denmark's culture is becoming less Christian and more secular. Culture is highly fluid and deeply contestable and, 11 therefore, people will fundamentally disagree over the exact makeup and definition of a nation's cultural identity. As immigrants participate in a country, invariably they are changing the dynamic of the country's identity. Countries that have received immigrants do experience economic and social benefits and therefore it is thought that countries ought to reciprocate through some form of political accommodation of difference. Immigrants provide labour and expertise to countries and therefore assist in a country's economy. As well, immigrants provide countries with additional perspectives that would enrich their political deliberation. It might be argued that some forms of assimilation, such as the requirement to learn the common language, are wholly justified for the purposes of efficiency and political unity. Yet, there is a difference between reasonable policies aimed at facilitating and enhancing dialogue between citizens (such as a common language in the public sphere) and policies that are directed at consciously excluding immigrants from the social discourse. It is in this context that the issue of the Jyllands-Posten cartoons is not merely a question of religious sensibilities. Rather, the cartoons serve to remind Muslims of their marginalization in Europe. The issue is not simply a matter of Muslims being offended that their religion is being subjected to ridicule. We must view the controversy in light of the broader feeling of exclusion felt by Muslims in Europe. This feeling is fostered by the historical construction of Europe as a Christian entity and from current measures designed to tighten immigration rules and preserve European culture (Asad, 162). Economically, moreover, Muslims suffer higher unemployment than native European citizens (Bird p.40). The cartoons reinforce the already present exclusion felt by 12 Muslims. The association of the Muslims with terrorism as suggested by the cartoon fosters a spirit of fear and mistrust. The cartoons legitimate already present prejudices and exclusionary attitudes held by Europeans towards Muslims. In doing so, the cartoons justify the political and social measures that are taken to exclude Muslims. Muslims are conceived as the other and not legitimately part of the political and social discourse. Some commentators, such as Flemming Rose, have argued that the cartoons fall under the category of satire. The cartoonists treated Islam the same way they treat Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism and other religions. And by treating Muslims in Denmark as equals they made a point: We are integrating you into the Danish tradition of satire because you are part of our society, not strangers. The cartoons are including, rather than excluding, Muslims. (Rose B01) Arguably, however, the historical context of Europe and the contemporary policies of European countries towards Muslim immigrants work to distinguish cartoons from speech caricaturing Christianity. The cartoons emerged in a political context which featured European countries such as Denmark adopting particular policies to preserve their cultural identities from the influence of immigration. The cartoons need to be placed in the context of European hostility to Islam in order to see exactly why they caused harm to Muslims. The content of the cartoons provided ideological support to actions taken by European governments to marginalize and exclude politically their Muslim inhabitants. They caused harm because they justified and promoted the discriminatory prejudices in European countries. The question then becomes as to how to deal with harmful speech within a free expression discourse. Is there a way for 13 democratic societies to deal with harmful speech while remaining faithful to the ideal of free and open expression? It is in answering this question that I turn to John Stuart Mill in the next chapter whose arguments can be utilized to formulate reasonable solutions. John Stuart Mill's arguments concerning freedom of thought and harm can aid us in solving this question. 14 Chapter 3 : Mill and Freedom of Thought-An Aid or a Hindrance? John Stuart Mill's celebrated book, On Liberty, has been the basis for contemporary discourse on free speech issues. While contemporary circumstances are often different than the circumstances that confronted Mill when he wrote his book, many of his arguments in On Liberty continue to be invoked by defenders of freedom of expression. Mill's distinction between offense and harm is helpful in understanding his theory of freedom of thought. He begins by describing the duty of citizens towards their society: "Every one who receives the protection of society owes a return for the benefit, and the fact of living in society renders it indispensable that each should be bound to observe a certain line of conduct towards the rest" (Mill, 1998 p. 82). Citizens by virtue of the fact that they receive protection by the greater society are obligated to conduct themselves in a way that does not harm the interests of other people. The responsibility and duty of citizens consists of "not injuring the interests of one another; or rather certain interests, which either by express legal provision or by tacit understanding, ought to be considered as rights" (ibid). Harm consists of the failure to pay due respect to other persons in a manner that would allow them to participate fully in democratic society. Mill further describes harm as "infring[ing] the rules necessary for the protection of others" (p.88). Harmful acts are those which seriously place the well being of others at risk. An act is harmful if it causes damage in such a way that its victims do not have the ability to prevent its worst consequences from falling upon them. This is a crucial insight from Mill that distinguishes harm from offence. He argues that people who commit actions that affect only themselves should be left alone 15 (p.84). There are certain actions that people commit that may draw moral disapproval from others. For example, people who hold to conservative views of sexuality may disapprove of couples living together before marriage. Being offended is not the same thing as being harmed. People may disapprove of pre-marital sex but their lives are not being obstructed in any way or fashion by it. As well, people are free to express their moral disapproval of others by making objections against pre-marital sex or by simply not seeking company with those who engage in it (p.86). People are free to live then-own lives in a way that is relatively unencumbered by practices that they deem offensive or morally problematic. A harmful act occurs when people's lives are being obstructed by the operation of a certain act. Mill writes, "the evil consequences of his acts do not fall on himself, but on others" (p. 88). An obvious example is physical violence. Physical assault of any kind leaves the victim bruised and traumatized. The consequences of physical assault fall on the victim who was violated against her free choice. A less obvious example of harm is personal libel. If I published something that is grossly inaccurate and which cast negative aspersions on another person, the affected victim could suffer consequences such as loss of reputation, public outrage and harassment. All these consequences would fall upon others who have little or no free choice to prevent being inflicted by the damaging act. What ultimately identifies something as harmful is that its victims are powerless to prevent suffering from its consequences. The issue is whether or not the State is justified in restricting speech on the basis of preventing harm against its citizens. The harm principle should not give license to the State being able to restrict the free flow of ideas. According to Mill, restricting speech 16 can damage the democratic interests of the public. For example, he argues that no one is truly infallible (Mill, 1998 p.22). No one can be completely certain that an opinion is absolutely false and mistaken. Thus, people who censor opinions might deny the public an opportunity to gain in knowledge of the truth. If the opinion is flawed or wrong, then the public can come to that conclusion through its own deliberation and examination. As Mill writes, "If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth; if wrong, they lose.. .the clearer perception and livelier expression of truth produced by its collusion with error" (p.21). The censorship of ideas inflicts harm on citizens because it denies them all the information and arguments necessary to develop fully rational conclusions. Any individual actor such as the state should not arbitrarily determine the validity of an argument without allowing the public an opportunity to evaluate its merits and claims. Governments and citizens often approach certain issues with narrow-minded and biased perspectives and thus dismiss certain opinions out of self-interest or ignorance. The public then must have the chance to deliberate on an argument's merits without it being pre-judged and rejected based on a government's particular self-interest. One of the normative claims of democracy is that it should enable the entire citizenry the opportunity to collectively deliberate and examine certain claims and arguments. By increasing the range of people involved in deliberation, arguments can be more fairly evaluated and assessed based on a broader set of perspectives. State censorship obstructs democracy by preventing citizens the fullest opportunity to examine and deliberate on all possible opinions about a particular situation. 17 Another argument that Mill invokes is the celebration of human individuality. He conceives human beings as engaged and rational individuals.. As Bhikhu Parekh argues, Mill believes that "the goal is to become the author of one's life such that ideally there is little about oneself beyond the unalterable that one has either not created or reflectively endorsed" (Parekh, 2000 p.41). Individuals must be active in determining their own life choices and opinions. Mill argues that individuals must be able to exercise their own critical capacities in formulating their own judgements: "judgment is given so that men may use it" (Mill 1998, p.23). The critical capacities of individuals can only be strengthened by continually being exercised (Mill p.65). Individuals cannot rely on the state or any other external actor to do the thinking for them. Censorship of ideas is problematic because it imposes judgments such that citizens are denied the opportunity to determine their own opinions themselves. As well, censorship removes ideas from consideration therefore preventing the individual from formulating a completely well-founded and developed opinion. Censorship of ideas then ultimately harms the individual's development of his rational capacities. As Mill concludes: "If the grounds of an opinion are not conclusive to the person's own reason, his reason cannot be strengthened, but is likely to be weakened, by his adopting it" (p.65). Individuals can only act as autonomous and free agents through continual exercise and practice of their critical capacities. Censorship limits individuals from fully exercising their autonomy because their range of choices is being constrained by the state. This constraint prevents individuals from fully deliberating in a fair and free way. Ultimately this causes harm because individuals are not making free decisions. Rather, their decisions are being dictated to a large extent by the state. 18 Mill's argument stems from his concern for human freedom. Individuals who have their opinions dictated by the state are not fully free. "He who lets the world, or his own portion of it, choose his plan of life for him, has no need of any other faculty than the ape-like one of imitation" (p. 65). Individual freedom consists of being allowed to determine one's plan of life as unencumbered as possible from others. Otherwise individuals would not be exercising their full potential as thinking and independent agents engaged in decision making. Censorship serves to infantilize individuals, denying them the independence and the autonomy to make their own judgments regarding certain ideas and opinions. Interestingly, Mill does mention that speech should be temperate. He notes that the proponents of this view accept that free expression should be open and unrestrained, but cautions that expression must not "pass the bounds of fair discussion" (p. 59). According to this argument, there are certain social expectations that frame and determine how speech can be expressed in a public setting. For example, swearing or disruptive language is generally not seen as conducive to a public debate in most liberal democratic countries. Mill accepts this as an "important consideration from a practical view" but he argues that this plea for temperate speech is often employed against those who dissent from the popular and orthodox view (p. 60). The plea for temperate speech is a means to suppress and silence those who dissent from the popular or conventional opinion. As well, the worst forms of intemperate speech where people misrepresent the opposite position or ignore certain facts or arguments are usually done out of ignorance or blindness (p.60). Either way, the consideration for "temperate speech" should not be interpreted as a means to exclude or stamp out certain points of view. Mill observes that 19 there is a double standard in society. People voicing controversial or dissenting views generally are exhorted to express themselves temperately while those who argue the prevailing opinion are given more liberty to be zealous (p. 61). He concludes that there is greater danger in allowing those arguing the majority view to be zealous since their immoderate manner can silence others who disagree with them. Mill's theory on freedom of expression generally rests on individuals being able to formulate their opinions freely with minimal coercion and obstruction by the state or by their fellow citizens. Only when individuals are allowed to reflect and examine the evidence freely can they come to their opinions in a rational manner. Simply accepting opinions without one's own rational examination is contrary to one's own human nature. Individuals should not be told what to believe or what to do, but should be given the freedom and opportunity to come up with conclusions through their own exercise of their critical capacities. Otherwise humans are no better than machines, mindlessly aping certain directions given by the state. Although most liberals agree with Mill that individuals must be critically reflective, some critics have argued that he has a limited and narrow understanding of rationality. This understanding of rationality is informed by an ethnocentrism in which peoples other than the English are deemed irrational and blindly subservient to their custom. For example, he writes of the Chinese people, They have become stationary—have remained so for thousands of years; and if they are ever to be farther improved, it must be by foreigners. They have succeeded beyond all hope... in making a people all alike, all governing their 20 thoughts and conduct by the same maxims and rules; and these are the fruits. (P-80) In M i l l ' s view, the Chinese are blindly obeying tradition without critically examining their merits. The Chinese are "stationary" because, according to M i l l , progress can only occur when individuals continually subject their conventions and received wisdom to analysis and contestation. He writes: The progressive principle, however, in either shape, whether as the love o f liberty or improvement, is antagonistic to the way o f Custom, involving at least emancipation from that yoke; and the contest between the two constitutes the chief interest o f the history of mankind... This is the case over the whole East. Custom is there, in all things, the final appeal: justice and right mean conformity to custom; the argument of custom no one.. .thinks o f resisting (78). M i l l ' s concern is that people set aside their critical capacities and simply obey certain rules simply out of a perceived obligation to convention. It is not as i f people are adhering to rules because they have arrived to certain conclusions from a process o f rational examination. Rather, people are attached to certain conventions without seriously examining their place in society. The problem with M i l l ' s argument is his sweeping generalization o f peoples as wholly blinded by convention. He simply concludes that the Chinese as a whole are trapped to their customs and traditions. But this conclusion does not take into account the possibility that some of the Chinese might preserve their customs after careful rational examination. He simply assumes as a fact that Chinese customs are backward and irrational. A s Parekh explains, M i l l ' s own prior assumptions about the cultural practices 21 of cultures other than the European causes him to rule out as non-rational the "traditional, community-centred and the religious" (Parekh, 2000, p.44). His understanding of rationality is coloured by an ethnocentrism that leads him to dismiss cultural practices of non-Europeans as being preserved only by the force of convention and habit. Mill's conception of rationality, then, does not take into account the possibility that other cultures accessed and accepted the merit of a particular custom. He concludes that the Chinese are not progressing because they strive for uniformity and convention (p.81). But this argument assumes that uniformity and convention is necessarily tied to irrationality. Indeed, he argues that Europe's progress is safeguarded by its openness to a diversity of ways of life (p. 80). Mill might be correct to assert that a diverse society might be preferable to a uniform society. However, this is not the same as asserting that a culture's preference for certain customs emerges from a failure by its people to deliberate rationally. Therefore, the problem with Mill's argument is that he views rationality through a narrowly ethnocentric lens. Europeans, based on their openness to diversity, are seen as rational and deliberative, while the Chinese are seen as irrational because they are bound to convention and tradition. What is missing from his account is the fact that all cultures, even cultures that prize rationality, invariably are shaped by basic assumptions that are simply taken as a given. As Bruce Baum says, Mill's standard of'completely free' agency obscures the givenness—that is, the unchosen character—of key aspects of everyone's social identities, fundamental commitments, and ideas of the good... Our characters, beliefs and values are 22 inevitably shaped in some measure by the traditions and customs of the communities in which we are born. (Baum 2000, p. 3 8) It is not a matter of one culture being rational and one culture being irrational. All people are shaped by their upbringing and the values imbued in them through things such as family, religion, and society. How one makes arguments and draws conclusions greatly depends on the particular understandings of knowledge in one's culture. The European process of rational discourse deeply emerges from a particular culture and a history. The problem is that Mill perceives this European process as universal and concludes that other cultures which lack this process are irrational and illegitimate. This perception that other cultures lack a practice of rationality partly explains Mill's well-known views regarding colonialism. In the introduction of On Liberty, he argues that his doctrine of liberty does not apply either to children or to those "backward states of society in which the race itself may be considered as in its nonage" (Mill 1991, p. 14). Peoples that have not achieved a certain level of rationality are not ready to fully exercise liberty. For these groups of people, Mill considered it perfectly reasonable that they be ruled by an "Akbar or a Charlemagne" (p. 15). Irrational peoples cannot exercise liberty responsibly and therefore must be ruled by an absolutist ruler in much the same way as children must be ruled by their parents. In this regard, Mill articulates a paternalist theory of imperialism in which peoples deemed to be as yet irrational are to be subjected to the rule of an outside authority for their own good (Parekh, 2000 p.45). Peoples who Mill deems irrational are to be treated as children who require the guidance and direction from "superior" rulers. 23 While it might be argued that Mill's views on culture are irrelevant today, I argue that his ideas do inform certain prejudices held by liberals about contemporary cultural issues. There is an assumption held by some contemporary liberals that rationality is a uniquely western concept and that other cultures, in order to become "rational", must thoroughly adopt western ways of thinking. One concrete case that illustrates this argument is the Salmon Rushdie controversy. When Salmon Rushdie's book The Satanic Verses was published in the United Kingdom it generated an outrage from Muslims because they felt that the contents of the book deliberately attacked and demeaned Islam (Parekh 2000, p.299). The outrage from Islamic groups resulted in a backlash from some liberals who argued that Muslims were threatening to overturn the liberal and secular culture of Britain (p.301). As well, after an incident where a copy of the book was burned, some liberal observers proceeded to denounce Muslim critics as uncivilized and fanatical (p.300). What is illuminating about the response of some liberal critics is their unwillingness to address some of the specific concerns of Muslims regarding the Rushdie book. They dismissed the criticisms of the book, arguing that they stemmed from a fundamentalist hostility to liberal secularism (p.303). There is a noticeable similarity between the arguments made by liberal critics over the Rushdie controversy, and the argument made by Mill regarding illiberal cultures. Some liberals dismissed the concerns of Muslims as irrelevant and conceptualized the debate as between fundamentalism on the one hand and secular liberal values on the other. Roy Jenkins, a notable liberal politician, wondered if the United Kingdom should have been cautious to allow the "creation... of a substantial Muslim community here". (Jenkins 24 as quoted in Parekh, p.301). Another liberal commentator, Fay Weldon, attacked the Koran as inhumane and illiberal (p.302). Those associated with fundamentalism are deemed to be blinded by their religious perspectives and, therefore, their arguments are dismissed as irrational and beside the point. The claims made by Muslim critics of the Rushdie book are driven by a hostility to secular Enlightenment values and therefore are not worthy of address. These particular liberals viewed the Muslim critics as the Other to secular and liberal values. Charles Taylor, in writing about this controversy, adds a related point. He argues that much of the liberal criticism of the Muslim groups is driven by the erroneous assumption that western attitudes towards free expression must be universally accepted: So post-Christian, semi-unbelieving society will be less willing to repress blasphemy than other great religious civilizations, most notably Islam. In other cultures again, the whole set of issues which we define in terms like 'blasphemy' may take a quite different form (Taylor, 1989 p. 121). Taylor's point is that some western critics mistake their culture-bound and particular understanding of free expression as objectively correct and universally applicable. The problem with Mill and these contemporary liberal critics is that they do not understand that other cultures can deliberate and come to rational and well-argued conclusions. Rationality and vigorous discourse are not exclusively the property of the west. Nor is the Western conception of rationality necessarily always the better one. However, neither Mill nor the liberal critics of the Muslim reaction are able to conceive a broad and expansive understanding of rationality which would include the awareness that different cultures and groups have processes of decision-making and expression. 25 In sum, Mill's defence of free expression and thought is important and correct as far as it goes. As well, his argument against custom can be helpful in asserting that cultural and social practices are not exempt from criticism and dissent. Customs should not be obeyed simply out of an obligation to convention. There are definitely customs that are patriarchal, racist, and homophobic which is harmful to people. Therefore, Mill is correct to insist that customs must not be followed blindly. However, his understanding of rationality is too limited and ethnocentric. Different cultures and groups have their own processes of rationality and deliberation and should not be simply assumed to be irrational or chained to convention. Contemporary liberals as well should not mistake their own understanding of rationality as the only correct means of deliberation. To build a genuinely democratic project requires contemporary liberals to move beyond simply defining rationality as a uniquely liberal concept. From this understanding, contemporary liberals should be wary of dismissing other perspectives as irrational or having no legitimate basis. On some of these major speech issues, liberals must resist the urge to simply characterize the arguments of others as illiberal or fundamentalist. Democratic expression must be able to enable both individuals and groups to voice their own convictions in a free and fair manner. Two recent writers, Stanley Fish and Joshua Cohen, both attempt to apply Mill's insights on freedom of speech to contemporary issues. They are conscious of some of the limitations of Mill's approach and try to rectify his free speech argument while attempting to build and create a broader, inclusive and democratic polity. While neither explicitly deals with the issue of harm to religious groups, both bring insights that can aid us in understanding the Jyllands-Posten controversy. 26 Chapter 4 : Contemporary Approaches to Free Speech-Cohen and Fish There is a widespread belief that liberalism is identified with an absolute free speech perspective. Stanley Fish maintains, "In our legal culture as it is now constituted, if one yells 'free speech'... and makes it stick, the case is closed." (Fish 1994, p. 105) His remark speaks to a common misunderstanding of the place of free speech in liberal thought. An absolutist free speech perspective views the protection of free speech as the paramount value which trumps other values such as pluralism and equality. In reality, there are very few theorists who would unequivocally argue that free speech is the only important value that should hold paramount importance. In public discourse, however, many liberals who promote free speech often cloak their arguments in absolutist rhetoric. This is problematic in that it often oversimplifies actual free speech controversies. This oversimplification is unhelpful in dealing with the nuances of particular cases where regulation of certain forms of speech is seen by some as promoting classical liberal aims. The debates surrounding pornography and hate speech often pit traditional liberal defenders of free speech against other liberals who argue that regulation of certain speech is necessary for the promotion of a public good. Regarding pornography, liberal defenders of free speech must contend with feminists such as Catherine McKinnon who argue that pornography silences women (Cohen 1993, p.216). More generally, free speech controversies have sometimes been cast as a clash between libertarian liberals and egalitarian liberals over the suitability of regulating speech for the purpose of promoting equality (p.212). These controversies are difficult to adjudicate because there is no consensus on an overriding principle which can balance the principle of free expression against the role of speech regulation in the promotion of equality. 27 The difficulties of adjudicating between these principles render free speech absolutism unhelpful for solving these controversies. For example, some commentators maintain that hate speech against minority groups serves as a form of communal libel (Parekh 2000, p. 314). Allowing hate speech creates a hostile atmosphere that potentially can prevent members of minority groups from achieving their desires to become full citizens in a democratic polity. In this case, censorship of hate speech is justified in order to promote the good of an inclusive democracy. An absolutist approach would disallow liberals from making these distinctions between different forms of speech because of its blanket assumption that all speech must be protected. Thus, the absolutist perspective fails because it is unable to deal with the nuances and complexities that arise out of these controversies. An absolutist free speech perspective is also problematic because its defenders often characterize their critics as illiberal. Part of the problem is that a free speech absolutist would wrap herself in the rhetoric of liberalism and accuse her opponents of betraying the celebrated virtues of free expression and diversity of thought. Thus, in the Danish cartoon controversy, the editor of Jyllards-Posten compared the fundamentalist critics of the Danish cartoons to "totalitarian tyrants" (Rose 2006, p.B02). Ironically, this characterization can serve as a form of silencing of those who, while committed to the liberal value of free speech, are troubled by the ways certain speech has been used to denigrate marginalized members of society. The contemporary debates over hate speech and pornography illustrate the anxiety of liberals who, while defending the value of free speech, are disturbed by the content of certain forms of speech. 28 Stanley Fish and Joshua Cohen's arguments concerning free speech attempt to ameliorate this anxiety by articulating a way in which liberals can integrate a rigorous defense of free speech with concerns over the content of certain forms of speech. Fish, in his essay "There is no such thing as free speech and it is a good thing too", argues that speech is always "produced within the precincts of some assumed conception of the good" (Fish 1994, 104). He contends that it is misleading and unhelpful to imagine a hypothetical world of completely unrestricted speech. "All affirmations of freedom of expression are.. .dependent for their force on an exception that literally carves out the space in which expression can emerge" (p. 103). Fish argues that political communities construct their deliberative spheres in ways that necessarily exclude things that are defined as being outside what is deemed acceptable. An absolutist perspective that argues for unrestricted and completely free speech misunderstands how speech is constructed in a polity. In order for speech to have meaning, there needs to be certain parameters that identify and distinguish what speech is and how it is to be expressed. This is why Fish contends that one cannot think of speech as a pure, apolitical realm in which it is only disrupted when the state imposes censorship (p. 108). The very act of identifying and specifying what speech is in a society is a political act. As an example, Fish draws attention to the jurisprudence on the First Amendment of the United States Constitution (p. 105) which distinguishes between speech and action. The problem, as Fish argues, is that speech is always crossing into the line into action (p. 105). For example, "fighting words", words designed to incite violence against individuals or groups, pose a particular dilemma. First Amendment jurisprudence generally, according to Fish, equates "fighting words" to action and, thus, allows the State sufficient basis to 29 regulate against these forms of speech. The problem is that there is no clear basis upon which to determine what exactly are fighting words. As Fish argues citing Justice Oliver Holmes, "every idea is an incitement to somebody...and...every sentence is potentially, in some situation that might occur tomorrow, a fighting word and therefore a candidate for regulation" (p. 106). Since words by their nature assist in moving the world in a different direction, words themselves have the potential to generate excessive reaction (p. 107). Because of this, we do not have a simple boundary between "fighting words" and non-fighting words. Words themselves are profoundly connected to action, and thus the word-action distinction is unhelpful as a rule. Therefore, an absolutist free speech perspective is unhelpful because we cannot simply say, "Allow all speech to flow unconstrained and absent government coercion". The very definition of speech and what distinguishes it from action already introduces an element of coercion and construction by the State. To define something as "speech" as opposed to "action" is to imply that there is something else that is not speech. The problem with an absolutist free speech argument is that it cannot answer the question of what exactly we are called to protect and preserve. If an absolutist free speech perspective argues that we are called to protect "speech", invariably we would be forced to ask ourselves what exactly we mean by "speech". Fish's observation that the idea of speech is politically constructed complicates the free speech discussion. One cannot appeal to a hypothetical situation in which speech flows completely freely. The question for liberals is whether Fish's argument can dangerously lead to an argument for political censorship of ideas. Governments, including liberal democratic governments, have tried historically to restrict the ability of 30 people to criticize their actions. Fish acknowledges the need for free speech principles as a check against "overhasty outcomes" (p. 113). If we accept Fish's theory regarding free speech, then would liberals lose a powerful argument against governments prone to silencing dissent? Political authorities can conceivably characterize certain forms of speech as dangerous or heretical in order to promote their specific and partisan interests. Fish's argument that "speech" is always already being constructed politically can be used in order to justify political censorship and exclusion of unpopular or critical voices in society. In my view, Fish is correct in that we need to move away from arguing for a hypothetical sphere of free and unrestricted speech. At the same time, it is my contention that liberals do not need to argue for this hypothetical sphere in order to promote a strong and vigorous argument for free speech. Fish's contention that speech is always being constructed politically is convincing. The question for liberals is how we can accept Fish's argument without undermining the basic principle of freedom of speech. At the same time, it can be argued that certain forms of speech indeed do not serve democratic ends and thus, can be restricted. One concrete example is corporate donations and funding of political parties. It has been argued that a corporate donation is a form of free speech and any regulation or restriction on it constitutes censorship. However it is plausible to argue that corporate fundraising can be regulated and restricted, while at the same time not betraying a strong commitment to free speech. Excessive corporate fundraising, it can be argued, corrupts a democratic polity and enables the wealthy to receive more influence than other classes in society. This corruption certainly damages and harms democratic polities and, it can be 31 argued, prevents the ability of some people from having their voices heard. Not all speech merits "equal and indiscriminate protection" (Parekh, 2000 p. 319). Certain forms of speech indeed promote ends that may serve to undermine the democratic basis that allows free speech to flourish in the first place. Thus, it is not contradictory to strongly support the principle of free speech while at the same time arguing for certain restrictions and limitations on speech that serve to undermine democratic and liberal polities. Joshua Cohen's argument in his article "Free Speech" can assist us in working through some of these problems. His main targets of criticism are what he describes as "minimalism" and "maximalism." These two concepts illustrate what he believes to be the standard defenses of free speech. He attempts to construct an alternative to these two defenses of free speech, which he perceives to be flawed (Cohen, 1993 p.211). Minimalism is the stance that speech is not in itself costly or harmful (p.218). The harms associated with speech can be addressed without imposing any restriction on speech itself (p.218). As well, free speech is usually connected with other values that are important in liberal polities. Generally, according to the minimalist argument, the expression of ideas itself is neither harmful nor important. However, the minimalist argument does not make sense in light of the fact that governments routinely put restrictions on expression such as demonstrations (p.219). These restrictions do not make sense unless we premise an affirmative value for expression (ibid). Fish argues similarly that "talk is produced of trying to move the world in one direction, rather than the other" (Fish, 1994 p. 107). The minimalist argument is unable to explain why speech is important if it does not carry any costs or harm in itself. 32 Maximalism argues that free speech is always tied to the notion of human autonomy and dignity. As Cohen writes: "The maximalist might, for example, argue that the dignity of human beings as autonomous and responsible agents is so immediately at stake in any act of expression" (Cohen p.220, my emphasis). Accordingly, any regulation of expression constitutes harm to the liberal principle of agency. Because of its connection to autonomy, expression is prized as extremely important and any regulation of it is a supreme violation of human dignity. The problem with this argument is that it treats all expression as the same. Cohen argues that maximialism does not help us when we are looking at distinctions between such things as group libel and individual libel (p.221). As Fish also notes, states and societies routinely treat certain forms of speech differently than others. To lump all speech and expression as the same is unhelpful in articulating a defense of free speech. Cohen argues that neither the maximalist nor the minimalist argument is adequate for a robust understanding of the place of speech in a democracy. In some ways, he agrees with Fish when he accepts that speech cannot be described as free-flowing and unconstrained. Societies do typically put regulations on certain forms of speech that are often rightly seen as legitimate and uncontroversial. Yet he highlights an ambiguity in Fish's argument. On the one hand, Cohen notes that Fish argues that speech issues must be adjudicated on the basis of a balancing of different principles (Cohen 238, Fish p. 106). On the other hand, Cohen argues that Fish's acceptance that the principle of free speech is necessary to prevent overhasty outcomes contradicts his claim that free speech has no inherent principled meaning (p.239). Cohen's argument is that while certain forms of 33 speech are regulated, that does not negate the idea that there is an underlying principle behind freedom of speech. Arguing against the minimalists, Cohen urges us to realize that speech does have consequences and can create harms. On the other hand, Cohen is reluctant to argue for censorship. Rather, he relates speech to the broader issue of political and social interests. It is here where I think Cohen can be helpful in answering the question of the point of speech in general. By connecting speech to interests, Cohen articulates a framework in which we can assess different free speech claims. He locates these interests as "expressive, deliberative, and informational interests" (p.223, Cohen's emphasis). The expressive interest is described as the need for people to articulate their feelings and convictions in the public sphere (p.224). Citizens coming from different backgrounds feel that they need to voice their particular thoughts and attitudes as a way to enact change and improve the condition of society. Some marginalized groups such as women and indigenous people see expressing their concerns and thoughts as the initial step in addressing serious political problems. Censorship becomes problematic in that it may silence people from openly sharing their thoughts and criticisms of their place in society. This expressive interest is similar to the notion of agency in the maximalist argument. There is a significant difference, however. In the maximalist argument, the mere act of expressing oneself is taken as an act of agency and dignity. With the expressive interest as Cohen articulates it, speech is not valued for itself, but for its relationship to the political and social goals of people who feel they must testify to their condition in society. As Cohen points out, people typically feel that they must speak out 34 to urge others to heed their voice and change certain policies or actions (p.225). To deny this right would be to deny people from fulfilling an obligation that they take to be immensely crucial and important. For Cohen, the second interest is the deliberative interest which flows from the expressive interest. The deliberative interest is that citizens should not make decisions out of ignorance (188). Therefore, different points of view need to be fairly expressed in the public sphere so that citizens can be fully knowledgeable of all the possible alternatives to a problem. The expressive interest is concerned with individuals and groups being able to articulate their convictions. By locating speech within a democratic context, the deliberative interest is that public citizens should not be denied relevant information and arguments. The deliberative issue here is whether or not a particular form of speech expands and widens the knowledge of citizens aiding them in making better informed decisions. However, assessing the deliberative interest is challenging. Offensive speech, such as pornography, is often dismissed as having little or no merit for deliberative democracy. The question remains as to who ultimately makes the decisions over the relative deliberative merit of a particular speech expression. Governments traditionally and historically are distrustful of dissent and, thus, there is the danger that public authorities will make decisions intended to serve their interest and not the interest of the public as a whole. The third interest is the informative interest (188) which simply means that citizens need reliable and accurate information to make judgments and decisions. Again, freedom of speech is seen as promoting a particular good for a society. Censorship and 35 restriction are problematic in that they limit and constrain the entire democratic society from reaching that particular good. By locating freedom of speech and expression with these three interests, Cohen clarifies the debate over freedom of speech. Issues of free expression are never about expression alone. Rather, issues of free expression are linked to goals and objectives that democratic polities wish to promote. The question is whether or not an expression of speech can conceivably serve one of these goals and objectives. As Fish argues, speech is never protected for its own sake, since "'mere' speech [is a] non-existent animal" (Fish 1994, p. 106). Freedom of expression is vigorously defended by many because restricting certain forms of speech will inevitably lead to the failure of a society to reach one or more of these goals. Disallowing the voice of a minority group for example may result in the creation of policies that can cause harm to members of that group. Censoring critics of a policy may lead to an uninformed citizenry making bad decisions without substantial information. Cohen's argument retains the principle of freedom of speech without running into the problems of an absolutist view. Freedom of speech is linked to several interests that aim to improve and enhance democratic deliberation. When we are critiquing censorship of ideas or government silencing of citizens, we are ultimately arguing for a more democratic society which allows its members to freely voice their convictions and participate meaningfully in discourse. In free speech debates, the ultimate objective should be a more inclusive and participatory democracy. Approaching these issues, we should reflect critically on how forms of speech promote the voices of some over the exclusion of others. 36 The present question is whether or not something like the cartoons is a form of speech that can promote these objectives. It is not a question of people having the inviolable right to say whatever they want because, as Fish argues, there is no such thing as a pure, unblemished sphere of speech that is outside of government control and influence. Rather it is the question of whether or not the publication of the cartoons promotes objectives tied to democratic means of decision making. Conversely, some could argue that the cartoons through their depiction of Muhammad in particular and Muslims in general, might serve as obstacles for people to speak and express themselves. We should not divorce issues of free speech from questions of democracy. A critical analysis of the cartoons would mean a serious examination of their imagery and how then-depictions serve goals of inclusion and greater democracy. In this process, political theorists can examine respectfully and seriously the claims of Muslims that the cartoons inflicted harm. Freedom of speech debates need to involve a careful and critical examination of the content of the particular form of speech. This makes the discussion more complex since free speech issues are no longer conceived as polarized debates between those who support free speech and those who do not. Although freedom of speech issues are complex and complicated, I believe that linking free speech debates with democracy can help us in finding fair and deliberative solutions. 37 Chapter 5: Recognition and Free Speech The discussion of speech in liberal societies often focuses on artistic and journalistic representations of minority groups. For the purposes of this paper, I will define a minority group as any group of people that "represent practices, lifestyles, views and ways of life that are different from, disapproved of, and in varying degrees discouraged by the dominant culture of the wider society" (Parekh 2000, p. 1). I contend that the exclusion of minority groups is particularly fostered by the perpetuation of stereotypes and misinformation. Contemporary free speech debates have generally been limited to questions over the merit of speech regulation by the State. These debates, however, need to include an analysis of the content of speech, especially as it relates to minority groups. Charles Taylor's theory of misrecognition and Bhikhu Parekh's notion of communal libel helps us to articulate how the content of certain speech disempowers groups in society. The issue is whether or not a vigorous defence of free expression can include measures designed to counter speech that harms minority groups. As noted in the previous chapter, I contend that free speech issues must be examined in the context of democratic theory. I argue that harmful speech serves to silence minority groups. Therefore, countering harmful speech is a way to make the democratic polity more inclusive. Charles Taylor's essay "The Politics of Recognition" begins with an account of why recognition is important to individuals who hold identities assigned to them by their membership in groups in society. He argues that we never create our identities in isolation. Rather, our identities are formed through negotiation and exchange with other people (1994, p.34). Our interactions with others are critical in nurturing and building 38 our identities and selves. As well, there is a need for our identities to be affirmed and acknowledged by others. Taylor writes, in reference to Jean-Jacques Rousseau's conception of honour, "In this state, one is dependent on others not just because they wield political power, or because one needs them for survival or success in one's cherished projects, but above all because one craves their esteem. The other-dependent person is a slave to 'opinion'" (1994, p.45). Taylor argues in his exposition of Rousseau that the concept of "esteem" remains crucially important. He argues that the "crucial feature of life is its fundamentally dialogical character" (p.32, Taylor's emphasis). Taylor interprets Rousseau as arguing that citizens can "flourish only to the extent that we are recognized" (Taylor p.50). How we are shaped is dependent profoundly on how we are viewed by others. Our identities are "always in dialogue with, sometimes in struggle against, the things our significant others want to see in us" (p.33). Our self-esteem is tied up with how others view us. Therefore, respect by others is very important. Disrespect is harmful because it tells us that our self-understandings and experiences,are wrong. This limits our ability to participate politically because it fundamentally attacks the bases of our convictions as citizens. How do we define "respect" in the context of political citizenship? Taylor argues that modern liberals have generally understood respect in terms of a "politics of universalism" (p.37). The central focus of this model is the equality of all citizens in their possession of certain political and legal rights as individuals (p.38). In the liberal model, the need for respect is satisfied when all citizens without prejudice can claim certain rights under a constitutional regime. The value of this model rests on its universal appeal. According to this model, there is no difference between each citizen in his or her 39 ability to exercise his or her individual rights. As well, there is an assumption of a relative homogeneity within the polity over the nature of the particular rights protected and asserted. In the case of the right to free expression, for example, under this model, there is a consensus that people should not be censored or restricted in their ability to voice their convictions. Thus, the model is universalist because it applies to all people, regardless of their social and economic differences. The liberal model of universalism conflicts with Taylor's "politics of difference" model. The liberal model asserts that members of a society share a universal identity as political citizens. For political purposes, people's identities as citizens must take precedence over their particular identities based on culture or class. The "politics of difference" model calls us to "recognize.. .the unique identity of this individual or group, their distinctiveness from everyone else" (p.38). Taylor argues that we must recognize these particular identities that individuals have that may conflict with their identities as equal citizens of a liberal regime. As well, recognition of these identities may involve differential treatment and accommodation of citizens based on their membership in particular groups. In regards to speech, the politics of difference model recognizes that there are certain forms of speech that insult and denigrate minority groups. Taylor argues that we define and develop our identities dialogically in our social and cultural upbringings (p.32). My individual identity is determined to large extent by how I am perceived and accepted by others. Speech that is harmful to minority groups causes exclusion and alienation for individuals within those communities. Individual members of minority groups grow up being influenced by the dominant discourse concerning their particular communities. For 40 example, young gay and lesbian teenagers are raised in a discourse where heterosexuality is privileged. Because of this, gays and lesbians may develop feelings of self-hatred and distress since they are not perceived as part of the respectable "norm" of society. Because our identities are always tied to our relationship with others around us, we can either feel affirmed or rejected by the dominant discourse. Harmful speech serves as concrete forms of rejection, it tells people of minorities that they are lesser human beings and thus not worthy of respect. When people accept the validity of these forms of speech, they perpetuate and promote this rejection further. Resisting these forms of speech, therefore, is essential in dispelling stereotypes and promoting inclusion of minority groups. People cannot feel safe participating in an environment where they are being disparaged and attacked. The question then is whether resisting these forms of speech can be reconciled to a robust defence of freedom of expression. Bhikhu Parekh, in his book, Rethinking Multiculturalism: Cultural Diversity and Political Theory, provides a useful definition of the examples of speech that are at issue. He describes these forms of speech as "communal libel". Libel is defined as "making public, untmthfiil and damaging remarks about an individual that go beyond fair comment" (Parekh 2000, p.313). Communal libel is the production of untmthful and negative remarks concerning minority groups. Usually these forms of communal libel take the form of stereotypical generalizations, such as "all Jews are greedy" or "all blacks are stupid" (p.313). They go beyond fair comment because they are patently false. As well, the aim of communal libel is to produce "malicious and mischievous stereotypes" (ibid). Producing false statements crosses the line and impugns the character of minority groups and portrays them in an unfair light. The statement "All Jews are greedy" is 41 demonstratively false and is "clearly designed to libel these communities" (313). Communal libel harms individuals because their identity and self respect is "partly grounded in respect for their community" (314). Individuals are nurtured by their associations with their distinctive communities. Communal libel fosters mistrust in those individual members of marginalized communities. Individual members, therefore, are confronted with stereotypes and false generalizations that limit their ability to convince other citizens of the merits of their arguments and testimonies. Parekh summarizes the effect of communal libel: It is a form of social and political exclusion, a declaration of hostility against a section of one's fellow-citizens, and strikes at the very root of communal life. It adversely affects their job prospects in a manner too subtle to be caught by the law. It lowers the social standing of the individuals and demeans them in their own eyes, (p.314) In short, communal libel is harmful because it damages certain interests of a minority. Politically, it prevents minority groups from having their arguments being taken seriously because it fosters prejudicial attitudes by the dominant society. Individuals within the minority group may face issues such as discrimination in employment because they are perceived as less worthy of respect than other people. Communal libel as well can cause minority groups to be treated as scapegoats whenever problems arise in society. To conclude communal libel creates division and distrust that is unproductive to the building and maintenance of a genuine and inclusive democratic polity. By equating these forms of speech to a form of libel, Parekh changes the nature of the debate. Most societies consider personal libel wrong (p.313). Generally, most liberal 42 societies do not think it is incommensurable to have strong libel laws, while at the same time having stringent and healthy protections of free speech. In his argument concerning communal libel, Parekh moves the focus of the debate to the harms caused by the particular forms of speech. In issues of personal libel, the free speech question is set aside because it is understood that speech that concretely and deliberately causes damage to a person's reputation or character is unacceptable. He highlights what Fish and Cohen have noted earlier, that no society operates in an environment where all forms of speech are treated the same. By treating these forms of speech as a form of libel, Parekh draws attention to the fact that societies do in fact place restrictions on speech that is damaging and harmful. He argues that liberal societies must be prepared to extend the same conditions on speech that is damaging to communities as a whole. The question this leaves us with is whether or not society's willingness to confront communal libel is consistent with a liberal defence of free speech. It is in this context that I shall look at the Jyllards-Posten cartoons and determine whether or not they fall under the category of communal libel. As well, the cartoons should be understood within the political context of Muslims living in Europe. As noted earlier in my thesis, Muslims face a number of different obstacles to their full participation in European society. Communal libel reinforces this marginalization and in the eyes of many other Europeans justifies the exclusion of Muslims from participating as equal members of society. We need to incorporate ways in which one can resist the harmful effects of particular speech while at the same time supporting liberal principles of free speech. 43 This brings us to the content of the Danish cartoons. Does the content of the cartoons go beyond acceptable criticism and become a case of communal libel? The most upsetting cartoon to Muslims is the cartoon that depicted Muhammad with the bomb in his turban (Assyrian International News Agency 2006)l. Some have interpreted this cartoon to imply that Muslims are terrorists. In the post 9-11 political context, there are concerns that the identification of Muslims as terrorists will result in increased discrimination and hate attacks against the Muslim minority. This view has been contested, however, by free speech advocates. For example, Flemming Rose, the culture editor of Jyllands-Posten, contends: One cartoon - depicting the prophet with a bomb in his turban — has drawn the harshest criticism. Angry voices claim the cartoon is saying that the prophet is a terrorist or that every Muslim is a terrorist. I read it differently: Some individuals have taken the religion of Islam hostage by committing terrorist acts in the name of the prophet. (Rose 2006, p.BOl)2 In Rose's view, the cartoon is not attacking Islam. Rather, the cartoon is a direct response to individuals who use Islam to promote violence. One problem is that speech, here a political cartoon, invariably lends itself to a multiplicity of interpretations. There might be a debate within the Muslim community over whether or not the Jyllands-Posten cartoons constitute hateful and harmful speech. While there will always be debate concerning the meaning of speech, there can be guidelines, however, to aid in deliberating this issue. One guideline concerns the relative limited power of minority groups. Parekh writes, 1 , http://\vw\v.aina.org/rclcases/2()()6()2()U4.1237.htm. Accessed May 29, 2007 2 hUp;/Aww.wasluiimonpost.coni/\vp-dyn/contcnt/articic/2006/()2/17/AR2()()6 Accessed July 6, 2007. 44 Political debate is rarely between equals. Every society is marred by deep inequalities of economic, political and cultural power, and neither political nor even economic equality by itself guarantees cultural equality. This is particularly the case in a multicultural society in which some groups... suffer from structural disadvantage. (Parekh 2000, 306) That is, we need to be consciously aware that minority groups are often at a disadvantage in society at confronting stereotypes and demeaning and distorting statements. The typical line given in free speech debates by some liberals is that controversial speech can be responded to by more speech (Fish p. 109). Usually the proponents of this solution argue that people can respond to hateful speech with arguments and logical reasoning. This point has some validity but it presumes that there is an equal playing field between different groups in society. Minority groups are often disadvantaged in the "dominant language of discourse" (Parekh p.306). Historically, minority groups were often excluded from political discourse and this has meant that present deliberative processes may not be designed to facilitate their involvement. Because of this, a minority group "withdraws into a mood of deep sulk or [turn] to violence to attract public attention" (p.306). Presently deliberative processes are too imbalanced to promote equal participation by all affected groups in society. Another helpful guideline is the need to understand the perspective of the Other in such conflicts. Flemming Rose argues that to him the cartoons were not attacks on Islam. The problem is that Rose's interpretation of the cartoons is not necessarily accepted by other people. How we interpret literature and speech depends in large part on our own history and our own place in society. Therefore, one cannot presume that because an 45 artistic representation is not offensive to Rose, the issue is resolved. For example, Parekh examines the controversy surrounding The Satanic Verses, the book written by Salmon Rushdie in the 1980s, to illustrate his argument of communal libel. In that case, Muslims were outraged at Rushdie's depiction of the Prophet Muhammed. Parekh argues that for Muslims the Rushdie affair brought back "memories of centuries of European Islamophobia, colonialism and racism" (p.310). Parekh argues compellingly that minority groups approach the issues of harmful and libellous speech from a context informed by political, social and cultural factors. People who are not members of the particular minority group would not necessarily find certain speech harmful because they do not experience the same social and political context of the particular social group. Non-Muslims who view the cartoons as harmless, do not have the same historical and cultural experience of Muslims. Even non-Muslims who might understand the hurt felt by Muslims due to the Jyllands-Posten cartoons might not understand the full extent of the harm because they are not affected directly by the Islamophobia of European society. To understand the harm inflicted by the cartoons towards Muslims, one must be informed of the particular lived history of the Muslim community in its relationship with Europe. One can argue further, that in a democratic setting we must respect the significant interests of the minority. Parekh argues that deliberation is an exercise that "deepens mutual understanding between different groups, sensitizes each to the concerns and anxieties of others... [and] plays a vital community role" (p.307). This mutual understanding can only exist when groups are respected and feel that their arguments and concerns are taken seriously and carefully. This also involves minority groups being willing to respect the concerns of others in society as well. Parekh for example advises 46 the Muslim minority to be aware of the traditional liberal commitment to free speech (p.311). He argues that if Muslims had recognized the importance of free speech for liberals, they would have "allayed some of the prevailing fears and perhaps encouraged a section of liberal opinion to view their demands with sympathy" (ibid). Feelings of distrust and hostility between different communities can only fade if people are willing to respect one another, which includes being open to alternative arguments, and not treating other citizens with prejudice. What occurred with the Jyllands-Posten controversy is that both sides became entrenched in their positions. Muslims viewed the cartoons as an affront to their faith while some liberals saw the controversy as an opportunity to defend vigorously the value of free speech against what they perceived to be censorship in the name of religion. Because there was little willingness to engage the Other in a spirit of mutual understanding and openness, feelings of distrust and hostility were nurtured. While I find Parekh's concept of communal libel helpful, I also question its compatibility with his proposed deliberative model. Personal libel generally is addressed through a judicial process in which the wronged claimant appeals for compensation from the offender. The purposes of the judicial process are to punish the one who authored the libel and to deter people in the future from libelling or defaming others. There is a confrontational element to the concept of libel which may be at odds with Parekh's deliberative solution. In the Salmon Rushdie case, he calls for both liberals and Muslims to rethink and examine their own positions and attempt to reach a meaningful dialogue with each other (p.311). The confrontational element in libel is at odds with such deliberation. Personal libel is a win-lose contest in which the person being libelled seeks justice against the offender. However as Parekh argues, deliberation or persuasion, as he 47 terms it, is "non-adversarial in the sense that one sees the persuadee not as an opponent to be defeated but as a fellow-citizen to be won over by arguments and appeals" (p.308). In his concept of communal libel, Parekh argues that the traditional liberal defence of freedom of expression is unhelpful in dealing with speech that is directed against minority groups of society. He is correct in arguing that traditional liberal theory needs to incorporate ways in which democratic societies can respond to these types of speech. However, his application of the concept of libel to speech directed at minority groups is difficult to reconcile with his deliberative solution. The concept of libel is rooted in an adversarial discourse which is at variance with a democratic process of creating mutual understanding between groups in society. Taylor's concept of "politics of difference" can be combined with Parekh's deliberative approach in order to craft a solution to this problem. Taylor's difference politics rejects the universalist approach of characterizing citizens as uniform in terms of certain political questions. Taylor argues that a difference politics entails acknowledging "something that is not universally shared" (Taylor, 1994 p.39). In the context of speech, this entails recognizing that different groups in society have distinct histories. Recognizing these distinct histories is tantamount to providing due respect to citizens of these groups. The cartoons tap into a historically prejudiced characterization of the Muslim as a terrorist (Henkel 2006, p.3). A politics of difference must entail recognition that certain characterization and symbols are rooted in harm against certain groups. In order to create a politics that is truly inclusive and democratic, these mischaracterizations must be addressed and denunciated. 48 For this denunciation to occur, the debate needs to move beyond simply characterizing the cartoons as "free speech." To simply characterize the cartoons as "free speech" without recognizing their potential to create stereotyping and misrepresentation would be to disregard and ignore the power of speech to nurture harm against the Muslim minority. It would also erroneously isolate the cartoons from the general stigmatization of Muslims in Europe. A politics of difference, instead of the universalist model, would recognize the ways in which certain forms of speech can promote objectives that are contrary to democratic purposes. As Parekh argues, "Free speech is not the only great value, and needs to be balanced against others such as avoidance of needless hurt, social harmony...and self-respect and dignity of individuals and groups" (1998 p.320). The dignity and respect of individuals and communities is an important component of a deliberative polity. Speech which violates the dignity of people creates an environment where people feel uncomfortable and less secure in expressing themselves. A politics of difference can better address this because it recognizes that different groups within society are affected by certain symbols and arguments based on their distinct histories and contexts. Parekh's advocacy of a deliberative solution is a good one. In deliberation, different communities can inform each other of why certain speech is not simply offensive, but in fact can foster an environment of harm for a particular group of people. Parekh argues for a public forum in which different groups can come together and address important issues (1998, p.306). In a deliberative process, all groups affected should approach matters from a spirit of understanding and participation. The frustration that comes from the contemporary debate over the cartoons emerges from a highly 49 adversarial and partisan context. The defenders of Jyllands-Posten wrap themselves with a highly defensive posture of "protecting free speech". An adversarial approach, however, can result in an escalation of the conflict. In a more deliberative forum, people may be more attentive to the arguments of the Other and approach the matter in a less partisan and polarized fashion. A politics of difference model is well suited for the deliberative solution as it demands that people pay attention to the ways in which different groups react and are affected by certain circumstances and events. Ultimately, I conclude that the defence of free speech needs to be coupled with a strong willingness of liberals and others to enhance and improve the ability of minority groups in society to have their arguments received with respect. The value of free speech is important in that it allows people to speak their minds and voice their convictions in a relatively free manner. But inclusion of marginalized groups is also important to allow people who have been traditionally excluded from political discourse. The value of free speech can only truly be appreciated within a greater context of making the democratic polity more inclusive to the voices of marginalized groups. Because of this, liberal defenders of free speech ought to be conscious of the ways in which certain speech such as the Jyllands-Posten cartoons can serve to silence minority groups. How we can adjudicate these issues is never simple but our efforts need to begin from an open and deliberative atmosphere where all perspectives are received with respect and mutual concern. This atmosphere can prevent these debates from becoming violent or unduly contentious. For a truly democratic polity, all voices, including voices from those that have been historically marginalized and excluded, must be respected. 50 Chapter 6: Free Speech Revisited What the Jyllands-Posten case demonstrates is that there is a need for a different understanding of freedom of expression in order to accommodate the concerns of marginalized groups in dealing with prejudicial and harmful speech. Ultimately I argue that the present liberal defence of free speech fails to deal with this issue. The present liberal theory assumes a mistaken notion of absolutist free speech. As Fish has argued, no speech is completely free in the sense of being completely unrestrained. While I argue that this is not reason enough to get rid of the concept completely, since it is a necessary bulwark against government censorship and control of information, free speech theory must be amended in order to deal with speech that produces and creates harm for minority groups. These forms of speech create harm in that they foster and nurture destructive mischaracterizations of individuals and groups. These forms of speech must be vigorously rejected as contrary to democratic principles of respect and inclusion. The present liberal theory of free speech fails at achieving this objective because it allows people simply to characterize these forms of speech as "free speech" and assume that the debate is over. As well, the present liberal theory is unhelpful in assisting groups in combating these forms of speech that are discriminatory and hateful. A rigorous defence of free speech is not inconsistent with a democratic politics that enables citizens and groups to reject hateful and harmful speech that is at odds with promoting genuine and authentic inclusion of all groups in society. Joseph Carens makes a distinction between the legal right to freedom of speech and the moral responsibility to respect other people in a democratic society. He notes that newspapers have the legal right to publish whatever they want, but no reputable 51 paper has ever published racist or anti-semitic cartoons (Hansen & Carens 2006, p. 129). He argues that one possible reason for this is that newspapers acknowledge that the publication of certain material violates a sense of civility and respect owed to members of a democratic society (ibid). Citizens living in a democratic society are owed a certain level of respect in order for them to participate politically. In Denmark, the Muslim community has been "marginalized socially, economically, and politically." (p. 130) The publication of the cartoons reflects the exclusion of Muslims from political and social influence. It promotes this exclusion further by justifying disrespect and prejudice against the Muslim minority. This disrespect of the Muslim minority is counter to democratic principles of inclusion and acceptance of different points of view. What is basic to the problem of the Jyllands-Posten controversy is the fact that European Muslims feel a sense of exclusion from democratic politics. The cartoons take place in the context of European anxiety over integration of Muslims in societies. Heiko Henkel, writing in the journal Radical Philosophy, argues that the cartoons highlight the contemporary ideological construct of Islamic fundamentalism as a necessary juxtaposition against "Europe": ... It is important to consider that, over the past fifteen years or so, the critique of 'Muslim fundamentalism' has become a cornerstone in the definition of European identities. As well as replacing anti-communism as the rallying point for a broad 'democratic consensus'... the critique of Islamic fundamentalism has also become a conduit for imagining Europe as a moral community beyond the nation" (Henkel 2006, p.3). 52 The free speech debate reflects this perception of the Muslim fundamentalist as the "Other" against a "progressive" Europe. By claiming that Muslim critics of the cartoons are "against free speech," people paint fundamentalist Islam as hostile to European values and thus give ammunition and support to measures designed to exclude Muslims from economic and social equality. As Henkel writes, the charge of fundamentalism is a way for many Europeans to avoid engaging seriously with the concerns of the Muslim minority (p. 6). The cartoons, then, are an example of where the classical liberal defence of free speech is hijacked by those who have an interest in stigmatizing Muslims as being openly hostile and antagonistic towards a "progressive" Europe. So how can we theorize freedom of speech to take into consideration these political and social notions of exclusion felt by minority groups? My analysis suggests several key principles with which to revise and improve the liberal theory of freedom of speech. These principles are: I) The lack ofpolitical power for minority groups must be considered II) Deliberation begins with a modicum of mutual respect III) The free speech debate needs to shift from focussing on a classically liberal definition to a substantive concern for democracy I) The lack ofpolitical power for minority groups. Bhiku Parekh argues that the Muslim minority in the United Kingdom was unable to fully articulate its objections to the Satanic Verses because of its lack of power and influence (Parekh, 2000 p.306). Historically marginalized groups often find themselves excluded from the political process because they lack resources. This exclusion prevents minority groups from being able to have their concerns addressed and understood by 53 others. Free speech defenders have often argued that offensive speech must be only addressed by more speech. However, minority groups find that their lack of power and resources prevents them from fully expressing their perspectives. If minority groups are to combat what they perceive as harmful speech, they must have sufficient resources and influence in order to participate fully in deliberation. The problem with the argument that speech must be addressed by more speech is that it neglects the unequal power between minority groups and the dominant majority. Some people and some groups can express themselves more effectively than others because they have more money and more resources. The free speech discussion needs to develop a substantive critique of how certain groups and individuals are prevented from fully expressing their convictions due to issues of power and inequality. JJ) Deliberation begins with a modicum of mutual respect Free speech debates often become polarized. Liberal defenders of freedom of speech sometimes assume that religious critics of provocative speech are driven by illiberal attitudes of fundamentalism and backwardness. In the Rushdie controversy, a book burning incident by a small group of Muslims led some observers to compare religious critics to barbarians and Nazis (Parekh, p.300). The Jyllands-Posten controversy also caused some liberal observers to make negative characterizations of the cartoons' Muslim critics. The culture editor of Jyllands-Posten compared the reaction of the Muslims to the censorship imposed by the Soviet Union (Rose 2006, p.BOl). The use of hyperbolic language damages the deliberative process as both sides of an issue can feel insulted and threatened. The polarization of free speech debates can effectively cause problems for serious and cooperative deliberation and interaction. 54 Respect is especially needed to build trust between communities. For minority groups that has been historically excluded and marginalized from political discourse, their convictions and concerns regarding harmful speech need to be addressed and given attention. To dismiss their arguments as fundamentalist or illiberal is to dismiss their contributions to deliberative discourse. Dismissal of their arguments can lead to distrust between minority groups and the dominant society. Distrust is an obstacle to a fair and open democratic society. Minority groups in particular feel that their convictions and views are not welcome. As well, the majority will perceive the minority groups as unwilling to participate fully in democratic discourse. Ironically, dismissing the views of particular minority groups on these free speech issues may end up serving as a form of censorship. Minority groups who feel that their views are not respected and given consideration may withdraw from public discourse and may take more drastic action to get their point across (Parekh, p.306). Ill) The Free speech debate needs to move from a classically liberal definition to a substantively democratic question Traditionally, as Fish and others have argued, free speech debates generally have been based on an assumption of a pure realm of free speech obstructed by the State intervening from outside (Fish 1994, p. 103). The free speech discourse needs to move towards an understanding that not everyone can exercise equally the right of expressing one's convictions. As mentioned earlier, minority groups suffer certain obstacles to having their convictions being received by elites and by the populace with respect. As well, I argue that certain privileged groups, such as the wealthy, enjoy access to power and influence that is not enjoyed by other members of society. This critical analysis of free 55 speech can lead political societies to create active measures to encourage and foster greater participation by groups of society. The problem with the classical view of free speech, then, is that it presumes that absent government involvement, all individuals would be equally capable and free to express themselves and have their arguments heard and discussed in a relatively fair and egalitarian manner. A critical view of free speech will begin with the assumption that not everyone has the same access to influence and power. To conclude, I suggest that further research is needed on a free speech theory that is tied to deliberative theories of democracy. The classical liberal approach that sees speech as having a free existence that is only troubled with the involvement of state or societal interference is too simplistic. A deliberative understanding of speech, however, focuses attention on the ways in which the speech of some groups is restricted based on issues of power and inequality. Such a change would not entail rejecting a defence of free speech against state or other censorship. Rather, an understanding of free speech based on a deliberative theory of democracy focuses attention on how certain voices in a society are marginalized based on social and economic structures. For example, in the cartoon controversy, what gets lost in the discussion of freedom of expression for the Jyllands-Posten writers is how Muslims themselves are limited in their ability to have their convictions heard and respected. An understanding of freedom of speech that is based on deliberative democracy would pose questions of power and influence that might not have been raised with a classical liberal view of freedom of speech. In the end, a more deliberative understanding of speech could move these debates forward. It seems that these debates never seem to change: much of the arguments that 56 came during the Jyllands-Posten controversy were present in the late 1980s and early 1990s during the Salmon Rushdie controversy. The debate must be changed so that constructive solutions address fully the concerns of minority groups while upholding free speech principles. The free speech discourse must be adapted to address the issue of harmful or problematic speech directed at groups. In doing so, this revised approach to the free speech discourse could minimize the polarization associated with these debates and can be constructive in aiding and creating a better deliberative democratic process. 57 Bibliography Asad, T. (2003). Formations of the Secular: Christianity, Islam and Modernity. Stanford: Stanford University Press. Assyrian International News Agency. (2006). Cartoons ofMuham med. Retrieved May 29, 2007 from http://www.aina.org/releases/2006020114323 7.htm BBC News. (2006, February 13) Iran Paper's Holocaust Cartoons. Retrieved July 31, 2007 from http://news.bbc.co.Uk/2/hi/middle_east/4709380.stm BBC News. (2006, September 9). Cartoons Row Hits Danish Exports. Retrieved July 30, 2007 from http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/5329642.stm Bird, K. (2005). Multiculturalism in Denmark. Canadian Diversity/Canadienne Diversite, 4(1). 39-42. Baum, B. (2000). Rereading Power and Freedom in J.S. Mill. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. Cartoon Wars. (2006, February 11). The Economist, p. 9. CNN News. (2006, February 5). Protestors Burn Consulate over Cartoons. Retrieved May 29, 2007 from 58 http://wwwxnnxom/2006/WORLD/asiapcf/02/05/cartoon.protests/index.html Cohen, J. (1993). Freedom of Expression. Philosophy and Public Affairs, 22(3). 207-263. Fish, S. (1994). There is No Such Thing as Free Speech, And It's a Good Thing Too. New York: Oxford University Press. Hansen, R & Carens, J. (2006). The Danish Controversy. A Defense of Liberal Freedom. Canadian Diversity/Canadienne Diversite, 5(1). 127-133. Henkel, H. (2006). "The Journalists of Jyllands-Posten are a bunch of Reactionary Provocateurs": The Danish Cartoon Controversy and the Self-image of Europe. Radical Philosophy, 136. 2-7. Howen, D., Hardaker, D., & Castle, S. (2006, February 10). How a Meeting of Leaders in Mecca set off the Cartoon Wars in the World. The Independent. Retrieved May 29, 2007 from http://news.independent.co.uk/world/middle east/article344482.ece Jenson, S. (2005). Religious Pluralism in Denmark. Canadian Diversity/Canadienne Diversite, 4(3). 11-15. 59 Mill, J.S. (1991). On Liberty and Other Essays. New York: Oxford University Press. Parekh, B. (2000). Rethinking Multiculturalism: Cultural Diversity and Political Theory. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Rose, F. (2006, February 19). Why I Published Those Cartoons. The Washington Post. Retrieved May 29. 2007 from http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dvn/content/article/2006/02/17/AR2006021702499 2.html Taylor, C. (2001). A Tension in Modern Democracy. In A. Botwinick and W. Connolly (Eds), Sheldon Wolin and the Vicissitudes of the Political (79-95). Princeton: Princeton University Press. Taylor, C. (1994). The Politics of Recognition. In AGutmann (Ed), Multiculturalism: Examining the Politics of Recognition (25-73). Princeton: Princeton University Press. Taylor, C. (1989). The Rushdie Controversy. Public Culture 2(1). 118-122. 60 


Citation Scheme:


Citations by CSL (citeproc-js)

Usage Statistics



Customize your widget with the following options, then copy and paste the code below into the HTML of your page to embed this item in your website.
                            <div id="ubcOpenCollectionsWidgetDisplay">
                            <script id="ubcOpenCollectionsWidget"
                            async >
IIIF logo Our image viewer uses the IIIF 2.0 standard. To load this item in other compatible viewers, use this url:


Related Items