The Early Days of a Better Nation

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

1688 and all that

Nicholas Whyte has replied to my reply. To take this further would, pending further research, be likely to descend to nit-picking or ascend to a contest of grand narratives. (At least, that's how I would be inclined to go, to nobody's profit or pleasure.) This not being Usenet I'm happy to leave the historical question to the judgement of the wide and discerning body of enlightened opinion that undoubtedly makes up the readership of both our blogs.

The question this all started as an aside to is something neither of us has pursued, and it's this: if you are going to limit free speech at all, is it more illiberal to do so by making the proclamation of certain specific and narrowly defined doctrines illegal, or by making administrative decisions based on broad and vague provisions? Which - if pressed to choose - would you prefer as a precedent in the hands of your political opponents, whoever they may be, who are of course much less wise and just than you and your friends? Which, for that matter, would you trust your side to use wisely? That too I leave as an exercise for the reader.


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