The Growing Threat to Civil Liberties

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The Growing Threat To Civil Liberties

The United States has long been respected for the principled thoroughness with which it has upheld the right to freedom of speech embodied in the first amendment to the constitution. We owe part of our own freedom of speech to the Americans who have upheld freedom of speech on the Internet against pressure from other countries who are angry that their citizens can call up forms of speech banned at home. The US consistently refuses to sign international agreements that would infringe the purity of its own constitutional guarantees of freedom of speech.

It is thus distressing to read in David Bernstein’s excellent book how anti-discrimination laws are being used to undermine civil liberties, such as the freedom of speech, in the very home of liberty itself. The US courts have in the past upheld freedom of speech, even where it might seem to encourage crime or subversion, but they have allowed anti-discrimination laws to over-rule freedom of speech. Once again the drive for equality is revealed as the greatest enemy of individual freedom.

One of the most striking examples of this is the substantial numbers of individuals who have been sacked (and also in consequence lost their medical care) because their employer’s lawyers were afraid that remarks that these individuals had made might lead to some other indignant and affronted employee suing the employer for allowing them to be subjected to a ‘hostile work environment’. A member of a legally privileged ‘minority’ might well then be awarded vast damages for some trivial remark. In consequence employers now even snoop on conversations and e-mails between two friendly consenting employees lest they contain a comment which might be unco...

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...ights, but she was only awarded one dollar plus her costs. It sums up the priorities of PC AmSoc America. A trivial anti- discrimination claim is worth a million times as much as freedom of speech and expression.

David Bernstein is to be congratulated on so clearly, vividly, analytically and accurately showing seriousness of these new threats to free speech and civil liberties in the US. The Cato Institute also deserves credit for publishing the book since in Bernstein’s words ‘authors who take politically incorrect positions . . . face a particularly difficult time finding publishers among leading trade presses’ (p. ix). Cato at least is still the land of the free and the home of the brave.

You Can't Say That: The Growing Threat To Civil Liberties From Antidiscrimination Laws Washington, DC: Cato Institute, 180pp., ISBN: 1 930 865 538, $20.00 (hb), 2003
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