Dworkin also good. I don’t agree with all of it, but there’s plenty of welcome clarity.
Freedom of speech is not just a special and distinctive emblem of Western culture that might be generously abridged or qualified as a measure of respect for other cultures that reject it…Free speech is a condition of legitimate government…So in a democracy no one, however powerful or impotent, can have a right not to be insulted or offended. That principle is of particular importance in a nation that strives for racial and ethnic fairness…Whatever multiculturalism means – whatever it means to call for increased “respect” for all citizens and groups – these virtues would be self-defeating if they were thought to justify official censorship.
Yes, what does it mean to call for increased ‘respect’ for all groups – and ‘cultures’ and religions and practices and beliefs? It means complete and total abdication of judgment, as far as I can tell, and that seems like a bad idea. It’s disrespectful to people who recognize the need for judgment.
It is often said that religion is special, because people’s religious convictions are so central to their personalities that they should not be asked to tolerate ridicule of their beliefs, and because they might feel a religious duty to strike back at what they take to be sacrilege…But religion must observe the principles of democracy, not the other way around. No religion can be permitted to legislate for everyone about what can or cannot be drawn any more than it can legislate about what may or may not be eaten. No one’s religious convictions can be thought to trump the freedom that makes democracy possible.
That’s the basic point. No religion can be permitted to legislate for everyone – about anything, actually, not just what can or cannot be drawn or eaten or worn or read, but about anything. Religion is the wrong tool for legislation, so it can’t be treated as universally applicable.