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Ronald Dworkin

Professor of jurisprudence at the University of Oxford, author of Taking Rights Seriously (1977), Life's Dominion (1993) and Freedom's Law (1996)


Campaigns and laws [which censor pornographic or Holocaust-denying speech] ... are particularly attractive in western democracies because they urge censorship in the interests not of the powerful but of the vulnerable; in the name not of injustice but of equality. They must nevertheless be resisted ... because if we deny freedom of speech to opinions we hate, we weaken the legitimacy of our entire political system, particularly the legitimacy of the very laws we pass to protect victims of stereotype and prejudice.

1997 - from his essay "Forked tongues, faked doctrines" published in Index on Censorship, March 1997
'Balanced' is code for 'denied': a right to free speech that must be 'balanced' against so exhaustive a list of other supposed values means a right that can be exercised only when those in power judge that the speech in question is innocuous to them.

1997 - from his essay "Forked tongues, faked doctrines" published in Index on Censorship, March 1997
Freedom of speech, which is quite unnecessary to most people's individual ambitions for themselves, has nothing to do with selfishness. It is, however, indispensable to the most basic, organic, social responsibility a people can have, which is the responsibility together to decide, in civic response if not in formal elections, what their collective political values really are.

1997 - from his essay "Forked tongues, faked doctrines" published in Index on Censorship, March 1997