Hitchens on George Galloway’s Canadian Extravaganza
I agree with Christopher Hitchens on this one; by making a big deal about terror supporter George Galloway’s visit, the Canadian government has shot itself in the foot and given this creep more publicity than he deserves—and Galloway is an expert at exploiting these types of situations: We don’t need government protection from controversial ideas.
The underlying premise of the First Amendment is that free expression, when protected for anyone, is thereby protected for everyone. This must apply most especially in tough cases that might raise eyebrows, such as the ACLU’s celebrated defense of the right of American Nazis to demonstrate in heavily Jewish Skokie, Ill., in the late 1970s. One of the effects of the “war on terror,” and of one of its concomitants, namely the attrition between the Muslim world and the West, has been an increasing tendency to make exceptions to First Amendment principles, either on the pretext of security or of avoiding the giving of offense. We should have learned by now that, however new the guise, these are the same old stale excuses for censorship. We might also notice that if one excuse is allowed, then all the others are made “legitimate” also. The risk of allowing all opinions by all speakers may seem great, but it is nothing compared with the risk of giving the power of censorship to any official.