Saturday, March 24, 2007


David Blankenhorn may be best known as an advocate for the importance of fathers, but the 51-year-old think-tank founder and author is about to step onto the firing line with a much more controversial issue: gay marriage.

The Harvard-educated Mississippi native is a former VISTA volunteer and community organizer who has made a career of thinking about big issues and telling others what he believes. He's written scores of op-ed pieces and essays, co-edited eight books and written two: the 1995 Fatherless America, which attributes many of society's ills to the lack of involvement of fathers in children's lives, and now, The Future of Marriage. In it, he argues kids need both a mother and a father, and because same-sex marriage can't provide that, it's bad for society and kids. "We're either going to go in the direction of viewing marriage as a purely private relationship between two people that's defined by those people, or we're going to try to strengthen and maintain marriage as our society's most pro-child institution," he says.

He may sound like a conservative Christian, but Blankenhorn says he's a liberal Democrat. "I'm not condemning homosexuality. I'm not condemning committed gay relationships," he says. But "the best institutional friend that children have is marriage, and if grownups make a mess of it, the children are going to suffer." Blankenhorn's attempts to raise consciousness about the importance of fathers led him to help inspire the creation of the National Fatherhood Initiative, a non-partisan group promoting responsible fatherhood. For 20 years, he has focused attention on the fallout of what he sees as a breakdown in the family.

He bristles when people call his think tank conservative; he wants to look deeply at America's core values, and he sees the Manhattan-based Institute for American Values, founded in 1987, as a catalyst for analysis and debate among those with differing views. The institute's budget of some $1.5 million largely comes from foundations, corporations and individual donations, which support studies, conferences, books and other publications. "People who say we're a conservative organization are just trying to call us names because they think it'll stigmatize us," he says, clearly rankled that his motives are so often misunderstood.

But as much as his passion for families impresses those who know his work, his blunt outspokenness can be off-putting to people on both sides of the political spectrum. He even criticizes the marriage movement, of which he is considered one of the founders, saying it has "stagnated." "It's one of the reasons I wrote the book," he says. "I want to stir the pot as much as I can."

Colleagues praise him

"My impression of this guy is he's really devoted his life to family issues and would probably do that if no one paid him at all," says Jonathan Rauch, a senior writer at National Journal magazine and a guest scholar at the Brookings Institution who has been on opposite sides of the podium with Blankenhorn.

"David has a lot of respect for ideas," says Maggie Gallagher, a former affiliate scholar with the institute and a strong opponent of same-sex marriage. He "created a new niche. He pulled together top scholars from a variety of disciplines concerned about family fragmentation who were not part of the Religious Right, and he gave them a home."

Sociology professor Judith Stacey of New York University says some in the family field view Blankenhorn as a "right-wing political advocate." But "I see him as more complicated than that." So does William Galston, a domestic policy adviser in the Clinton administration and a senior fellow at Brookings. "My impression is on matters of civil rights and economics and social justice, he's the same warm-hearted Southern liberal he was when he started," Galston says. "It might be more accurate to say a strand of thinking about the family and the culture that in contemporary circumstances is regarded as conservative is something that's become a stronger part of his thinking."

Some academics, including Stacey, suggest the institute lacks objectivity because its work is not subject to scholarly peer review. Blankenhorn rebuffs such claims. "Almost all our work is done in teams of people. We review each other's work constantly," he says. "So it is utter hogwash for somebody to say something like that."

Says Stacey: "I'm one of his favorite targets. We have opposing views on the relationship between social science research about families and public policy about families. Not only do we disagree about the policies, but we disagree about what the research says."

Theodora Ooms, a consultant on family policy who has known Blankenhorn since the mid-1980s, calls him "relentless. . He says he is open-minded, but I find him rather rigid and close-minded." Blankenhorn admits he has a "pushy" side. "I've had fallings-out over differing opinions about what was best to do about what we were working on at the time - not too many of them, though," he says. "If he really disagrees with something, you'll know it," says Galston. "I've never had a problem with it, but I suspect others may."

Blankenhorn wasn't always such a polarizing figure. His sixth-grade teacher chastised him for talking out of turn and told him he was a "leader child." "She said, 'If you do things, the others will follow you,' " he recalls. "That was such a dramatic moment for me. . I've wanted to play that role and have tried my best to play that role since I was a kid."

He originally planned a think tank for community organizers, but he became increasingly frustrated in bringing about social change and decided civil society and the family were areas where he could have an impact. Now, two decades later, the institute has broadened its scope to include projects on Islam's relationships with the West and an examination of thrift as an American core value.

Growing up in the South

Blankenhorn says he avoided the gay marriage issue for years and didn't get into civil unions in his book because it's not directly linked to his concern over marriage as "society's most pro-child institution." He has been clear about other family issues: Marriage is good for kids. Voluntary single-motherhood isn't. Neither is divorce. He says he couldn't skirt same-sex marriage any longer because allowing gays to marry and form families conflicts with children's right to know and be raised by their two biological parents.

His book also cites a new analysis he did on 35 nations from the 2002 International Social Survey Programme, which shows marriage is weakest in nations where support for gay marriage is strongest. "I'm not saying one causes the other. I'm just saying they go together," he says. "If you do support marriage and want it to be this robust social institution, then you ought to think twice about saying you're for gay marriage."

Blankenhorn's childhood in Jackson, Miss., where his parents still live, emphasized family and church. His father worked in insurance, and Blankenhorn says he was a role model; his mother ran the church Sunday school. Both were Presbyterian deacons and elders. Blankenhorn played sports, was president of his freshman class and of his church youth group. The family's church was the first in his area to allow black worshipers. Racial prejudice and public school desegregation had a profound impact on him, causing him at age 15 to try to bridge racial rifts. He founded the Mississippi Community Service Corps, which recruited black and white high school students to join together to tutor elementary school kids. When his father's job transferred him to Salem, Va., in Blankenhorn's junior year of high school, he re-created the service corps by contacting all the church youth groups in the Roanoke/Salem area.

Blankenhorn hadn't planned to go out of state for college, but he ran into a former student from his old high school who urged him to apply to Harvard. That student, Carey Ramos, now a New York attorney who has represented the recording industry in online copyright cases, says Blankenhorn impressed him. "He was clearly very bright and articulate," Ramos says. "What struck me was how determined he was and how he had the qualities of a leader. I thought he would wind up doing interesting things."


Take care not to exceed the acceptable doses of tolerance

The meaning of multiculturalism has changed over the decades, to the point where it often stands for cultural relativism

LISTEN to the debates about multiculturalism and you will soon find yourself wondering what exactly is meant by the term. At some point 40 or 50 years ago people might have used the word multiculturalism, if at all, to refer to the rather new phenomenon of restaurants suddenly serving foods from across the world: food that was, on the whole, far better than the then bog standard Anglo-Saxon fare. In the same way, the term might back then also have encompassed novel dances, different music, unusual art, and so on.

Of course this old-fashioned usage of the term covers things that are today wholly uncontroversial. If there's anyone out there who prefers a processed cheese sandwich on white bread to a Thai green curry or an Indian aloo gobi, I haven't met the person. But assuming he exists, I doubt he's too worried about the threat to Australia's long-term survival posed by his local restaurant's vindaloo specials on Friday nights. Nor do I think the neighbourhood Turkish restaurant's weekly belly dancer is keeping him up at night.

Of course the notion of multiculturalism does have a more recent, more controversial side to it, one that is separate from this older sense. Aside from signalling a host of interesting new cuisines and captivating dances and things of that ilk, multiculturalism can also be shorthand for a package of beliefs that I would boil down to these two.

First, there's the spoken or unspoken proposition that no culture's beliefs, practices or achievements are any better (or worse) than any other's. This basic proposition often goes under the name of cultural relativism.

The second basic aspect of new multiculturalism, one not unrelated to the first, is the feeling or sense (for it is rarely openly defended) that tolerance is always good, that there is no limit to what one should be tolerant of and prepared to defer to.

Both these claims, the cultural relativist one and the anything goes tolerance one, are in my view wrongheaded. To the extent that defenders of multiculturalism mean either or both of them, they defend a very unattractive product. It is one that should be jettisoned in Australia, not least in our schools.

Here's why. Take cultural relativism. Some of the ideas it encapsulates are distant cousins of the great philosopher David Hume's scepticism, especially his version of moral scepticism. Such moral sceptics hold that moral evaluating is ultimately a function of human sentiments; that there are no transcendent, objective moral qualities; that for humans, morality is a function not of reason but of sentiment.

But nothing in Hume's moral scepticism prevents us from weighing likely consequences. Indeed, and despite his sceptical first principles, Hume was a great empiricist. We can, he thought, judge and weigh people's actions in terms of their effects. The same goes for cultures. If one culture emphasises education while another promotes lying on the beach, we can most certainly say which will be the wealthier culture and the one that will discover antibiotics and build jet aircraft. Even if there are no transcendent right choices, a basic awareness of likely consequences means you can't choose the beach and then complain about your short life span, lack of modern medicine, and absence of consumer choices.

The problem with proponents of cultural relativism is that they don't understand their own sceptical foundations. Scepticism forces one to make consequences king. And on those criteria, some cultures look awful: they don't encourage the reading or translation of books, they stifle curiosity, they stamp out free speech and free inquiry by equating dissent with apostasy.

The point is that even moral sceptics lack grounds for treating cultures as equivalent. For them, too, cultures can be weighed and judged. The practices of, say, female genital mutilation or slavery can be condemned on the basis of what they engender. Not much support there for cultural relativism's and the new multiculturalism's lazy attitude of "everything is as good as everything else".

What about the unrestrained apotheosis of tolerance? Is that a virtue? The ancient Greeks understood virtues as the quality of being good at various things: good at courage, good at charity, good at frugality, good at tolerance, and so on. But the ancients understood these virtues also in terms of moderation. Too much of anything could be bad. Some frugality is definitely a good thing, but too much makes you a miser or cheapskate. A plentiful amount of courage is essential, but too much leads to recklessness. Even tolerance, in healthy doses a most wonderful attribute, can turn into nothing more than weakness.

We should strive to be tolerant of much in life. But not everything. It is not a good thing but a bad thing to tolerate the neo-Nazi thug, the child-murdering suicide bomber, the serial rapist, the fanatic who professes to have a pipeline to God and aims to kill those who disagree.

Of course the new multiculturalism never makes such absolutist support of tolerance explicit. To do so would reveal how absurd such a thorough-going refusal to pass judgment ultimately is. But that absolutism is nevertheless there, lurking quietly in the dark corners of this modern-day catechism. Seen in this way, we might still be sceptical about the effectiveness of asking new migrants to take English tests, say, but we can understand the motives. They are honourable ones. And we can and should shudder when our schools treat some of this dogma as near gospel, to be force-fed to our children. We might even hope for the day when the older sense of multiculturalism again becomes the dominant one.


The modern-day sin of denial

Would-be Inquisitors can no longer rely on the power of the Church or the authority of religion to silence their opponents. Indeed, Western society seems incapable of distinguishing between right and wrong these days. We're more comfortable with talking about values in the plural, rather than any single value that everyone can embrace; instead of the truth, society prefers to lecture about `truths'. On most issues, we are free to pick and choose our beliefs and affiliations. Educators tell university students - especially in the social sciences and humanities - that there's no such thing as a right or wrong answer. Instead of enforcing a explicit moral code, the authorities seek to police behaviour through diffuse rhetoric that avoids dealing with difficult questions; they talk about `appropriate' and `inappropriate' behaviour, for example.

Paradoxically, the absence of moral clarity today gives rise to an illiberal and intolerant climate. At a time when moralists find it difficult clearly to differentiate between right and wrong, they are forced to find some other way to draw the line between acceptable and unacceptable behaviour. So they seize examples of unambiguous evil - paedophilia, the Holocaust, pollution - in order to define potential moral transgression. Today's heresy hunters strive to construct new taboos. The most ritualised and institutionalised taboo in Western society is to question the Holocaust, or to refuse to stand opposed to it. Numerous countries now have laws against Holocaust denial. In Austria, denying the Holocaust can lead to a 10-year prison sentence. Targeting Holocaust deniers allows politicians to occupy the moral high ground, which explains why, this month, German justice minister Brigitte Zypries called for a Europe-wide ban on Holocaust denial and the wearing of Nazi symbols.

The Holocaust has been transformed into an all-purpose moral metaphor adopted by a variety of special interest campaigns and crusades. This Holocaust brand has been co-opted for other experiences, too; we now hear debates about the African-American Holocaust, the Serbian Holocaust, the Bosnian Holocaust, the Rwandan Holocaust. Anti-abortionist crusaders protest about the `Holocaust of fetuses' and animal rights activists denounce the `Holocaust of seals' in Canada. Such manipulation of the Holocaust metaphor turns an historic tragedy into a caricature. Many US Jews were angered when an animal rights organisation launched a campaign that compared the slaughter of livestock to the murder of Jews in the Holocaust. A campaign exhibition, called `Holocaust on Your Plate', juxtaposed images of people in concentration camps with pictures of animals in pens.

Many co-opt the Holocaust brand to win legitimacy and backing for their campaigns. And they insist that anyone who questions their version of events should be treated in a manner similar to those who deny the real Holocaust. `Do Armenian citizens of France not deserve the same protection as their Jewish compatriots?', asked an advocate of criminalising the denial of the Armenian genocide of 1915 (5). In the past two decades, accusing someone of denial has become the twenty-first-century equivalent of labelling them a heretic. Those who deny the claims of fashionable campaigners and causes can expect to be censored and treated with intolerance. Following the precedent set by laws against Holocaust denial, the French National Assembly passed a law in October last year that could sentence to a year's imprisonment anyone who denies the Armenian genocide.

The act of denial has been transformed into a generic evil. This is clear in the way that the stigmatisation of denial has leapt from the realm of historic controversies over genocides to other areas of debate. Denial has become a kind of free-floating blasphemy, which can attach itself to a variety of issues and problems. One environmentalist writer argues that the `language of "climate change", "global warming", "human impacts" and "adaptation" are themselves a form of denial familiar from other forms of human rights abuse' (6). It seems that some people can no longer tell what a difference in opinion looks like - it's all just `denial'.

The charge of denial has become a secular form of blasphemy. A book written by an author who is sceptical of today's prevailing environmentalist wisdom was dismissed with the words: `The text employs the strategy of those who, for example, argue that gay men aren't dying of AIDS, that Jews weren't singled out by the Nazis for extermination, and so on.' (7) This forced association of three highly charged issues - pollution, AIDS, the Nazi Holocaust against the Jews - shows how denial has become an all-purpose blasphemy.

Once denial has been stigmatised, there are demands for it to be censored. Consider the current attempts to stifle anyone who questions predictions of catastrophic climate change. Such sceptics are frequently branded `global warming deniers', and their behaviour compared to that of anti-Semitic Holocaust deniers. Some advocate a policy of zero tolerance towards the climate change deniers. `I have very limited patience with those who deny human responsibility for upper-atmosphere pollution and ozone depletion', says one moral crusader, before declaring: `There is no intellectual difference between the Lomborgians [those who adhere to the arguments of the sceptic Bjorn Lomborg] who steadfastly refuse to accept the overwhelming evidence of human-caused global warming from scientists of unquestioned reputation, and the neo-Nazi Holocaust deniers' (8). The heretic is condemned because he has dared to question an authority that must never be questioned. Here, `overwhelming evidence' serves as the equivalent of revealed religious truth, and those who question `scientists of unquestioned reputation' - that is, the new priestly caste - are guilty of blasphemy. Such a conformist outlook can be found in the writings of sanctimonious British journalist, George Monbiot, who recently wrote: `Almost everywhere, climate change denial now looks as stupid and unacceptable as Holocaust denial.' (9)

Heresy-hunters who charge their opponents with `ecological denial' also warn that the `time for reason and reasonableness is running short' (10). It seems that ecological denial, refusing to embrace the environmentalist world view, makes one complicit in a long list of `eco-crimes'. Some journalists argue that, like Holocaust deniers, those who refuse to accept the sacred narrative on global warming should simply be silenced in the media. `There comes a point in journalism where striving for balance becomes irresponsible', argues CBS reporter Scott Pelley in justification of such a censorious orientation (11). From this illiberal standpoint, the media have a responsibility to silence global warming deniers by whatever means necessary.

Crusaders against denial don't only wish to silence their opponents. In the true tradition of heresy-hunting, they also want to inflict punishment on those who deny the true faith. Anyone who denies the official consensus on the spread of AIDS can be castigated as an `AIDS denier' - and `if Holocaust deniers deserve to be punished, so do Aids deniers', argues one advocate of state repression: `It is high time African governments outlawed denial of the epidemic, and persecuted those who perpetuate misinformation about AIDS or in any way undermine efforts to tackle it.' (12)

Illiberal opponents of `climate change deniers' are demanding the same. One Australian journalist wrote last year that, as `David Irving is under arrest in Austria for Holocaust denial', perhaps `there is a case for making climate change denial an offence'. Why? Because it is a `crime against humanity, after all' (13). David Roberts, a journalist for the online magazine Grist, would like to see global warming deniers prosecuted like Nazi war criminals. In a vitriolic tone characteristic of dogmatic inquisitors he argued: `We should have war crimes trials for these bastards.some sort of climate Nuremberg.' (14)

Denial, it seems, is the contemporary equivalent of what traditional religion used to classify as a sinful or dangerous idea. A long time ago, theocrats recognised that the authority of their belief system would be reinforced if they insisted that `God punishes disbelief' (15). Moreover, blasphemers had to be punished because of the evil impact their blasphemy might have on others. Today's inquisitors have adopted this approach, insisting that repressing arguments is `responsible behaviour' since it protects people from `wrong arguments' and disbelief. The transformation of denial into a taboo reflects the conformist dogmatism that is widespread today.

It's worth recalling, as Arthur Versluis reminds us in his important book The New Inquisitions, that the term heresy derives from the Greek word hairen, which means `to choose'. `A "heretic", then, is one who chooses, one who therefore exemplifies freedom of individual thought', notes Versluis (16). And what connects the Inquisition with the activities of heresy-hunters today is `perhaps the most important of all: the "crime" in question is fundamentally a "crime" of thought.' (17)

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word denial denotes the act of `asserting (of anything) to be untrue or untenable'. That is why denial has been inextricably linked to critical thought throughout the ages. Those who deny the official version of events have always faced hostility, and sometimes physical repression. Today, the word denial has become denuded of its radical and critical associations. Instead it is used as a synonym for refusing to acknowledge the truth - as in Holocaust Denial. In its colloquial and everyday usage, denial is seen as an act driven by base and dishonest motives. This draws on the psychoanalytical usage of the word. In psychoanalysis, denial means the suppression of painful and shameful recollections and experiences. In today's therapy culture, people who express views that contradict our own are often told that they are `in denial' (18). It has become a way of discrediting their viewpoint, or shutting them up.

Contemporary culture encourages the public disclosure of emotion - and it encourages the recognition and acknowledgement of others' feelings (19). In these circumstances, denial has come to be seen as a negative emotional response. One account says denial represents the refusal to `recognise a disturbing or painful reality' (20). So being in denial is the polar opposite of acknowledging pain and other uncomfortable facts. In an age that prides itself on public confessionalism, the charge of denial is a powerful expression of moral disapproval. People can be forgiven for doing drugs or drinking too much, so long as they go on a 12-step recovery programme and acknowledge their wrongdoing. Denial, on the other hand, is seen as a symptom of a destructive and dangerous personality; part of a disease that dooms the individual to behave self-destructively. According to one account, alcoholism is `the disease of denial' and `denial is the life-blood of addiction' (21). In popular culture, denial often serves as a marker for a sick mind. One self-help website informs the world that the `disease of denial kills more people every year than any other disease'. Apparently `it also maims, cripples, disables and incapacitates more people, and those close to them, than anything else' (22).

When denial is then attached to a painful historical event like the Holocaust, it ceases to be merely self-destructive and apparently becomes a threat to others, too. Denial is not simply the psychological attribute of an individual - it has become a cultural force that threatens people's wellbeing. In the domain of culture, denial has acquired powerful physical and existential attributes with apparently grave consequences for its victims. The criminalisation of denial is most developed in debates about genocide. According to Gregory Stanton, former president of Genocide Watch, denial represents the final stage in what he calls the `eight stages of genocide', and moreover it is among the `surest indicators of further genocidal massacres' (23). From this perspective, denial is not simply an act of speech; it is part of the physical act of extermination.

Therapy culture encourages people to interpret their emotional distress as being more painful and damaging than physical distress. And from this perspective, the pain caused by denial is portrayed as uniquely grave and hurtful. This is what Elie Wiesel meant when he characterised genocide denial as a `double killing', because he believes it also murders the memory of the crime. This transformation of words and metaphors into weapons of mass destruction has also become part of the green alarmists' strategy. Psychobabble about individuals in denial who cannot acknowledge the truth is cited as an explanation for why the public is not always in a state of panic about the impending environmental apocalypse. Indian journalist Mihir Shah has described it as the `environment denial syndrome' (24). Others preach that `we can intellectually accept the evidence of climate change, but we find it extremely hard to accept our responsibility for a crime of such enormity'. In this case, the deniers are condemned for refusing to accept responsibility for an enormous crime. According to George Marshall, this shows that denial is a fundamentally immoral deed. `Indeed, the most powerful evidence of our denial is the failure to even recognise that there is a moral dimension with identifiable perpetrators and victims', he argues (25).

Free speech is sacred

Is it ever legitimate to criminalise free speech? There's little doubt that people who deny or attempt to minimise the significance of the Holocaust are motivated by the basest of motives. They often believe that the wrong side won the Second World War, and they wish to rewrite history in order to legitimise Nazism. They are sometimes obsessively anti-Semitic. There are some very good reasons for taking up cudgels against those who would write concentration camps and gas chambers out of history.

But there are also some very bad reasons for crusading against Holocaust denial. One is the idea that denial offends the sensibility of Jewish survivors. Free speech cannot be free speech if people do not enjoy the right to offend their fellow citizens. The demand that we acknowledge the pain and suffering of any particular group of victims has more to do with moral policing than a desire to affirm historical truths. One critic of Holocaust denial, the author DD Guttenplan, argues that the debate is not about the minutiae of historical detail. `To fail to acknowledge the pain felt by Holocaust survivors at the negation of their own experience - or to treat such pain as a particularly Jewish problem which need not trouble anyone else - is to deny our common humanity.' (26) Perhaps. But turning history into a form of therapy designed to affirm the feelings of victims risks transforming a debate into a method of social engineering.

Some argue that Holocaust denial is a problem because, as more and more of the survivors die, there will be no one left to counter the claim that this terrible event was a myth. Others worry that young people surfing the net will inevitably encounter anti-Semitic websites and will lack the historical nous to see through the propaganda. Yet bureaucratic intervention and censorship cannot prevent such ideas from gaining people's attention. Even from a narrow pragmatic perspective, the policing of speech does not work. In the age of the internet ideas cannot be banned out of existence.

However, free speech is not a matter of pragmatic convenience; it is a fundamental democratic principle. This was recognised by the French National Assembly in 1789 when it stated: `The free communication of thought and opinion is one of the most precious rights of man; every citizen may therefore speak, write and print freely.' This right has become divisible, it seems. Western societies find it difficult to live according to their principles. Pragmatic politicians and legal theorists continually lecture us about how free speech is not an absolute right. Others claim that free speech is an overrated myth. We spend more time discussing how to curb free speech than we do extending it. And every time curbs are introduced on one form of speech, they serve as a prelude for censoring another form. Thus, the criminalisation of Holocaust denial has led to the repression of other denials of conventional wisdom.

It is particularly unfortunate that science has been mobilised to assist the policing of free thinking. Sections of the science establishment argue that the debate on global warming is finished, and that those who deny the so-called scientific consensus ought to be ostracised. But science cannot be legitimately used to close down debate. At its best, scientific research can provide us with evidence of important problems - but how society interprets that evidence is subject to controversy and debate, to political, moral and cultural factors. Every culture has something different to say about what is an acceptable level of risk, how much pain people should be expected to put up with, and about what is safe. Claims made about safe sex, child safety and environmental pollution are the product of cultural interpretation, as are the many threats to the world that apparently lie ahead. Science has some very important things to say about these problems that cannot and should not be ignored. But science does not provide the answers as to what a problem means for society, and how we should deal with it. That is why no subject should be treated as a taboo. It is also why science should not be used to end a discussion. In our search for meaning, we are entitled to argue and debate and freely express our views about everything. And in our conformist era, a healthy dose of disbelief is no bad thing.

One final point. Today's mood of intolerance towards free speech resonates with public opinion. One of the most disturbing developments of past two decades is the loss of support for freedom of speech amongst the wider public. This was confirmed in the recently published British Social Attitudes Survey, which indicated that a larger section of the British public (64 per cent) support the right of people `not to be exposed to offensive views' than support the right for people to `say what they think' (54 per cent). The report concluded that the `general public is generally less convinced about civil liberties than they were 25 years ago' (27). Only a small majority of the public takes free speech seriously. The survey also suggests that these illiberal attitudes pre-date the war on terrorism, and therefore cannot be blamed on the political atmosphere created post-9/11. That fact alone underlines the scale of the challenge facing those of us who still take freedom and liberty seriously.


No comments: