In both countries, the restraints on speech have since been softened, but the concessions have been modest, and Canada’s Supreme Court has clearly indicated a wish to retain the new speech regime in full.
This slow erosion of freedom of expression has come about in ways both social and legal.
Freedom of political speech, however, was regarded as sacrosanct by all.
As legal restraints on obscenity fell away, however, freedom of political speech began to come under attack from a different kind of censor—college administrators, ethnic-grievance groups, gay and feminist advocates.
A woman protests a speech by Geert Wilders in Australia in 2013. Wilders’s 2008 film ‘Fitna’ interweaved passages from the Quran with clips of jihadist violence.
Governments began to treat those threatened for their opinions almost as harshly as those attacking them. In 2006, Tony Blair’s government passed the Racial and Religious Hatred Act—a kind of “blasphemy lite” law—ostensibly designed to protect all religions against threatening expression but generally understood as intended to limit hostile criticism of Islam. In 2011, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told the OIC that, while the First Amendment prevented the U. from prohibiting speech, the administration might still “use some old-fashioned techniques of peer pressure and shaming so that people don’t feel they have the support to do what we abhor.” Admittedly, it is difficult to draw a clear line between criticism of an Islamic belief and an attack on Muslims who believe it.Over time, they encouraged others who had no interest in Islam whatsoever—from wealthy individuals to “dissident” minorities to democratic politicians—to try their hand at silencing opponents.Almost no newspapers published the Muhammad cartoons, for instance, though the story of them dominated the international media for weeks.Surely such things can’t happen in the land of the First Amendment? In recent years, their attacks on free expression in the U. have generally been prompted by a philistine discomfort with provocative art, from the “Sensation” exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum in 1999 to the more recent flap over “The Death of Klinghoffer” at New York’s Metropolitan Opera.Not in quite the same way, perhaps, but a libel suit brought by the climatologist Michael Mann against the opinion writer Mark Steyn, National Review magazine (with which I am affiliated) and the Competitive Enterprise Institute for their criticism of his temperature projections still poses a chilling threat to free speech and scientific debate. In Britain, the sitting Tory home secretary, Theresa May, long resisted efforts to reform a catchall law regulating speech that the police have enforced with extraordinary zeal and no sense of proportion.for some sexual content Three bachelors set up a speed dating scheme to attract women and money.