It was Voltaire’s biographer, rather than the man himself, who came up with the phrase: “I hate what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” But this Edwardian confection of the sentiment of an 18th century French philosopher is a glorious one, even if some would have you believe it has no place in 21st century Scotland.
Certainly, the co-leader of the Scottish Greens (and now, remarkably, a Minister in the Scottish Government), Patrick Harvie, has his own personal limits on what can be said and who can say it. In a paraphrase of George Orwell in his world, ‘free buses good, free speech bad.’
His confection of the sentiment seems to stop with, “I hate what you say,” with the possible addition of, “and will kill your right to say it.” If Mr Harvie does not like the cut of your jib he feels he has the right to silence you, but thankfully we still have judges with a regard for the rule of law.
Anyone with an interest in defending free speech will have welcomed the judgement of Sheriff John McCormick last week, in the case of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association against the Scottish Event Campus Ltd.
Read the full article here.