Nick Clegg and the freedom to offend


In response to the Massacre at Charlie Hebdo, Nick Clegg argues that “you cannot have freedom unless people are free to offend”:

“UKIP leader Nigel Farage caused controversy by criticising the UK’s ‘gross policy of Multiculturism’ in the wake of the Paris attacks.

Deputy premier Nick Clegg accused the UKIP leader of exploiting the tragedy for ‘political points’ and implying wrongly that British Muslims are ‘part of the problem’.

During his weekly LBC radio programme, Mr Clegg clashed with a caller called Omar who suggested that the Paris attacks had been provoked.

‘There can be no excuse, no reason, no explanation,’ the Deputy Prime Minister said. ‘They have killed cartoonists who have done nothing more than draw drawings which they so happened to find offensive.’

‘And do you know what? Here’s the bottom line, Omar, at the end of the day in a free society, people have to be free to offend each other.’

‘You cannot have freedom unless people are free to offend. We have no right not to be offended.’

This is the classic Boutique Multiculturalist position. Can you imagine Nick Clegg standing up for the right of a satirical magazine in the UK to print, for example, racist cartoons?

Of course not. This is because doing so would offend Nick’s own religion: Progressivism.

Progressivism pwnes other religions by making making tolerance its core value. The only thing a progressive will not tolerate is intolerance. This neat little formulation allows the progressive to set the moral agenda according to the religious tenants of progressivism. You are free to believe what you want, so long as you don’t trespass onto Progressivism’s consecrated ground.

What makes this even more ridiculous, in the example given above, is the contradictory beliefs progressivism holds about race itself.

On the one hand, the progressive argues that it is OK to satirise someone’s religion, but not their race, because their religion is chosen whereas their race is inherent.

On the other hand, the progressive argues that race is a social construct and does not exist.

So so which is it? A social construct or something inherent and immutable?

Of course, the progressive dialectic thrives off such contradictions, so don’t expect progressivism to be killed by them. But the hypocrisy of Nick Clegg’s position is obvious and deserves to be drawn out.

The “freedom to offend” which he is arguing for has strict parameters, and woe betide anyone who strays too far from the reservation.