Christopher Hitchens on Freedom of Speech

Profoundly provocative.

It is not just the right of the person who speaks to be heard, it is the right of everyone in the audience to listen and to hear, and every time you silence somebody you make yourself a prisoner of your own action because you deny yourself the right to hear something. In other words, your own right to hear and be exposed is as much involved in all these cases as is the right of the other to voice his or her view.

Indeed as John Stuart Mill said: if all of society were agreed on the truth and beauty and value of one proposition, all except one person it would be most important, in fact it would become even more important, that that one heretic be heard because we would still benefit from his perhaps outrageous or appalling view.

Hitchens attitude toward whether others agreed with him bears noting.

… I can’t find a seconder when I propose this but I don’t care. I don’t need a seconder, my own opinion is enough for me and I claim the right to have it defended against any consensus, any majority, anywhere, any place, any time, and anyone who disagrees with this can pick a number, get in a line and kiss my ass.

(Here is an an MP3 version)