Must avoid offense (on penalty of …)

Yet another law professor, this time Harvard’s Noah Feldman, suggests suspending First Amendment protection to placate offense [Newsday, Volokh, Greenfield] As background, in Britain, “Channel 4 has cited concerns over security as the reason for cancelling a planned screening at its headquarters this week of a documentary film questioning the origins of Islam.” [Guardian via Volokh; Michael Totten, “The Terrorists’ Veto, City Journal] Notes Ken at Popehat: “The context is one in which the decision to take offense is a political act.”

Ken has also stayed on top of this issue in other posts, noting, for example, that the Holocaust-denial laws already accepted in many Western countries pave the way for further restrictions on speech; that Greece has lately moved against mild religious satire; and that Great Britain is electing to unleash criminal-law enforcement against a broader range of Internet comment trollery.

Earlier on Eric Posner here and here; on Jeremy Waldron here, here, and here; on Peter Spiro here; Volokh on Spiro and Harold Koh here.


  • How disappointing that a British television channel has cancelled a documentary on the origins of Islam due to threats of thuggish violence. An earlier Briton once commented on the effectiveness of this approach in dealing with a far more formidable group of thugs:

    An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.

    His name was Winston Churchill.

  • You can have multiculturalism, or you can have freedom.

    You can’t have both.