I was correct to be concerned about the fact that we could not read Mikko Ellilä’s blog article being investigatd by Finnish authorities. (Couldn’t read it because it was written in Finnish.) As it turns out, the post was indeed racist. However, while neither Prodos and I want to be supporters of racist blogging, there is another issue at stake.
Below is the post I made this morning on Prodos’s blog:
There are everal important issues involved in this case. I’ll blog about them when I have enough time to do so.
But at the moment I’ll deal with only a little bit.
Prodos and I are not at all pleased that one of our bloggers has written racist material on his ThinkerToThinker blog. If it were not for the legal action against Mikko Ellilä, I would be urging Prodos to disassociate ThinkerToTHinker from Ellilä. I would not want Prodos to be mistaken as supporting such ideas and would not want him to offer blog space to views we think are hugely unjust, when that space could be filled with material in line with Prodos’s (and my) moral and intellectual convictions.
However, there is another issue that I think is more important, under the circumstances, and that is the freedom to state one’s views openly, and to engage in open debate without having to fear arrest and punishment for those beliefs.
In regard to freedom of speech, it doesn’t matter if one’s beliefs are wrong and/or offensive. Freedom of speech means the freedom to lay out your ideas publicly and have them scrutinized by others.
The ideas that Mikko has put to the world are not new. And Mikko puts forward evidence that, taken by itself, without the fullest known context and in-depth examination, makes sense to a number of people. Already. Without Mikko writing a word.
These are ideas that will exist whether anyone writes about them on the Internet or not. They are ideas that some people talk about amongst themselves. When you suppress such ideas *by law* and fail to address them with rigorous and honest arguments – when you fail to listen to these beliefs and then address them rationally, factually, clearly, honestly, and justly, you only convince the holders of such ideas that you are closed to what they hold to be facts and reason. You convince them that truth is not on your side, so you must use suppression.
Now, anyone who owns any kind of communication media has the right to set the terms. You have the right to refuse to give your financial support to ideas you think are wrong. But a government’s only proper job is to restrain those who initiate force, or deliberately commit fraud, so that free people can go about their non-coercive business.
That business includes expressing prejudiced ideas. That business also includes kicking the c**p out of those ideas when you come across them. And hopefully you will do it intelligently, so that anyone listening or reading will see that perhaps their own prejudices – maybe ones they came up with all on their own – are wrong.
Prejudices can grow in people without any outside encouragement. But if you know that you’ll be prosecuted for stating what others say is a prejudice, you might just keep believing it. And no one will know that there’s a bad idea brewing in your mind that needs addressing.
So when a government starts suppressing prejudiced speech, it is time to stand against that suppression. It is not time to reject Mikko’s blog from ThinkerToThinker, even though Prodos (and I) rejects what Mikko has said in the blog post legally at issue.
No more time at the moment. I’ll deal with the other issues involved later, on “Sydney Kendall Says”.