Never ban political speech.
This is especially true if the political speech in question is radical, is expressed by the craziest, most dangerous people.
Never ban a communist, a fascist, an ethno-nationalist or a militant jihadist.
I’ll give you eight reasons …
- Banning political speech white-ants liberal democracy.
How is this the case when liberal democracy is the very thing we cherish and want to protect? Well, if governments of free-people ban a group from expressing themselves, we’ve just taken one incremental step away from freedom. Ban one, you can ban two. Each step logically moves democracy towards a regime less tolerant. If a country has, say, eleven political movements, the government of the day needs only take ten steps to ban all opposing views!
- Banning political speech is a double-edged sword.
Sure, it’s tempting when in power. How long will you be in power though? Today’s government is tomorrow’s opposition. Ban a view today and you’ll be muzzled tomorrow. It’s a dangerous tactic with unintended consequences for you personally.
- Banning political speech creates a habit our politicians shouldn’t develop.
Prohibiting one thing can lead to outlawing many other freedoms. If political speech can be banned without a whimper, why not who we associate with or where we travel, how we earn a living or who we worship.
- Banning political speech creates martyrs for your opponent’s movement.
The zealots and disgruntled fanatics who follow them have long, long memories, will use the banning as evidence for their cause and will add it as yet another grievance to motivate and inspire an ever-growing support base.
- Banning political speech hides the enemy.
If the views you’ve prohibited from being expressed are radical and could lead to, if implemented, the end of liberal democracy itself, it’s far, far better to know the identities of these foes. Shut them down and you might never know who and where they are.
- Banning political speech weakens the future leaders of liberal democracy.
The next generation of political leaders will have lived without hearing the message we’ve banned. They will be unpractised countering taboo opinions. They’ll be less battle-hardened politically and ill-prepared for the fights ahead.
- Banning political speech is the Leftists’ cancel culture you despise.
Today, they have little choice. Winning an argument is beyond many in the Left. Let them play the game of deplatforming and cancelling. Let them weaken themselves. Liberals, classical liberals and libertarians? Never.
- Banning political speech puts you in very bad company.
Pol Pot, Idi Amin and Saddam Hussein were chillingly effective at using this blunt, illiberal tool to crush dissent. Do you really want to associate yourself with these despots?
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An entrepreneur who has employed 1,470+ people, Kenelm was admitted to the BRW Fast 100 three times with businesses in Australia, NZ, Singapore and New York, where he lived for 12 years. Kenelm’s investment firm performs mid-market leveraged roll-ups. He was a regular columnist for the Australian Financial Review. Kenelm is the Founder of Liberty Itch.