Our old friend evcricket has been making the argument that we libertarians are hypocrites on repugnant speech. This is in the context of the Sydney Opera House / St. James Ethics Centre sponsored event “Honour Killings are morally justified”. This is how we covered the story: here and here.
Let’s be very clear – not only are so-called “honour killings” morally repugnant, they are contrary to both the common law and legislation within the state of New South Wales, and every other state and territory of the Australian Commonwealth. Perhaps the talk was to explain why “honour killings” shouldn’t be morally repugnant. Perhaps we’ve all got it wrong; maybe there should be an exemption from the law against murder to allow men to murder their wife, daughters, daughters-in-law, or just any random female who happens to annoy or “disrespect” them.*
Perhaps the Festival of Dangerous Ideas only wanted to promote a greater understanding of the phenomenon of so-called honour killings. If so why not have a talk by sociologists and psychologists?
Perhaps. Perhaps. Perhaps. Bottom line is this: People were outraged and disgusted. They let the organisers know. The organisers caved and cancelled. That is the market for ideas at work – most people quickly formed the opinion that we were not going to be better off for understanding why some men feel the need to murder women and children. To be sure, our loss.
The irony, of course, for all our lefty friends who have suddenly developed a passion for free speech is that 18c would not prevent the “Honour Killing is Morally Justified” speech from occurring, or protect any of the women who live in fear of their lives should they annoy any man in their family, but it would very likely protect the speaker from any social opprobrium following the actual speech (or in this case before the speech). I have no doubt that the speaker would have a case under 18c against many, even all, of his critics if he choose to bring such an action.
* Next year can we look forward to the talk “It’s okay to rape western women, they’re all sluts anyway”?