Atheists and freedom of speech (was: Rights and fear.)

Russell Turpin
Tue, 25 Mar 2003 20:17:31 +0000

Joseph S Barrera III <>:
>Why should anyone (esp. atheists) believe in
>an innate freedom of expression?

I think there are two reasons why atheists
especially tend to support freedom of

First, unlike the more conservative theists,
we do NOT believe that we have some mystical
lodestone that points to The Truth, whether
revealed scripture or a god whispering in our
ear. We see good ideas as the result of a
complex and social filtering process. People
spawn all sorts of creative thought, good and
horrible, pragmatic and fantastic, kind and
viscious, ideological and scientific, and on
and on. Others criticize, ideas are torn
apart and mixed back together, flipped inside
out and pulled back upright, thrown into
play, storybook, and novel, pinned under a
microscope, and in the end, some wonderful
things result. Setting up an authority whose
purpose is to squelch the bad is far too
coarse a filtering mechanism.

Second, atheists in particular are sensitive
to that kind of oppression, since censorship
has been practiced by so many religions to
protect themselves from blasphemy and heresy.
Human authority to censor almost always
sacrifices logic to ideology, logic to dogma,
and truth to The Truth.

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