One of the consequences of seeing some things as being outside the purview of the State is that the gap between what is legal/illegal and what is wrong or right is often on display. We’ve seen a number of examples of this when it comes to matters of free expression. From the Hollywood Ten and the Dixie Chicks to Chick-Fil-A and that guy from Duck Dynasty, we have seen boycotts and blacklists that while legal (involving matters as private contracture or freedom of association), are not conducive to maintaining a real marketplace of ideas.
I think all of those boycotts and blacklists are spinach and I say to hell with the lot. Those are simply the gateway to rule by Mme. Defarge, the thirst for humiliation and vengeance, whether the guest of dishonor is Justine Sacco or Steve Martin. This is an unhealthy development. And that brings me to the QotD, which comes from Brian Doherty at Reason:
[R]egularly acting on the idea that those with wrong ideas deserve to be driven from society in any conceivable non-violent way might, I suggest, make for a less lovable, rich, and peaceful world. When we start regularly restricting people’s opportunities in commerce or association over differing beliefs, what could be peaceful ideological differences start to tip over into people fighting for what they can understandably see as their metaphorical life–their social or economic life. It’s a dangerous game and if pursued vigorously and across the board by everyone who disagrees with everyone else on issues or practices they consider vital, will make everyone worse off.
Once again, freedom of speech (as a cultural more, not just as a legal issue) isn’t real if it only applies to the stuff we like. As someone who works in the world of ideas, both as a professor and a writer, that’s something I have to underscore. As I tell my students, “You have no right to be comfortable.” But we do have the responsibility (again culturally, though not legally) to accept that not everyone agrees with us and that can happen without punishment. That was true for Dalton Trumbo. It’s true for Phil Robertson.