Censorship Envy

Source: The Volokh Conspiracy
by Eugene Volokh

“One reason I broadly oppose governmental restrictions on the expression of ideas — even obviously bad, dangerous, and offensive ideas — is the phenomenon I call ‘censorship envy’: The common reaction that, ‘If my neighbor gets to ban speech he reviles, why shouldn’t I get to do the same?’ … One recurring argument from Muslims who want Mohammed cartoons legally suppressed is that European laws prohibit other kinds of speech offensive to other groups — for instance, Holocaust denial, which is often restricted chiefly because it’s seen as implicitly or explicitly anti-Semitic — and that Muslims should get the same treatment. In practice, those other prohibitions don’t get used that often, and European speech is actually more free than the laws would suggest. Nonetheless, the laws’ presence does make possible the argument I describe.” (11/13/23)