I don't have much to say about the fact that Judith Curry seems to have embraced Mark Steyn (archived here), who is being sued for defamation. Judith says with her usual carefully ambiguous wording that: Mark Steyn has written a remarkable defense of free speech.
All I will say is that I do not want to live in a society that allows people to tell lies about others to such an extent that it ruins their professional or personal reputation. That's why most societies have laws protecting people from this.
Freedom of speech came at a big cost to past generations and there are some societies where it still doesn't exist. Those people who gave their lives for it would be turning in their graves to know how it's being abused by some people today. The right to free speech also carries responsibility. (I'm all for freedom and I do think it's important to distinguish between giving offence and causing unwarranted and undeserved harm. That distinction seems to be blurred in the mind of some of the most vocal people who complain they aren't permitted to freely libel and slander others, but take offence when other people exercise their right to free speech and criticise them in turn).
I'll also refer to the attitude to free speech that I encountered on Hot Copper, which describes this situation. In my view it's probably not that different to that of some of the loudest yobbos yelling for the freedom to say whatever they want whenever they want and where ever they want, regardless of the veracity or consequences. But when someone else rightly corrects what they say, they shriek that their free speech is being hampered and political debate is being "shut down".
Excuse me? Didn't I just read you speaking freely (though illogically, certainly politically), Senator Brandis?
Here's the list of items George Brandis wants discussed at Question Time in Parliament (nearly forgot the /sarc tag):
- Debate the pros and cons of gravity.
- Is earth really flat?
- When did life on earth begin - 4,000 years ago, 6,000 years ago or 11,000 years ago?
- Are germs really that important for human health?
- Tobacco smoking and health benefits.