Plus Ça Change…

Since the recent success of the writings of the Four Horsemen, there’s been something of a backlash from people such as Our Maddy of the Sorrows and (surprisingly) Julian Baggini who claim that atheists are becoming, well, too noisy.
There’s nothing new under the sun – John Stuart Mill (1806 – 1863) pointed out in his writings on Liberty:
Before quitting the subject of freedom of opinion, it is fit to take some notice of those who say, that the free expression of all opinions should be permitted, on condition that the manner be temperate, and do not pass the bounds of fair discussion. Much might be said on the impossibility of fixing where these supposed bounds are to be placed; for if the test be offence to those whose opinion is attacked, I think experience testifies that this offence is given whenever the attack is telling and powerful, and that every opponent who pushes them hard, and whom they find it difficult to answer, appears to them, if he shows any strong feeling on the subject, an intemperate opponent.
Hat tips to both Ophelia and Russell. Read both of them for why Mill further argues that "intemperance" is a false charge from those who have too much invested in not rocking the boat.
And I am probably not the only gay man who sees parallels in this backlash from religionists (and their appeasers) with earlier examples of those in power claiming that those who spoke against them were getting too noisy (or "uppity" as one particular group would have said). I remember well the homophobes from the 1970s and the 1980s who said "the love that dare not speak its name has become the love that will not shut up". Different minority, same old shit.

About Geoff Coupe

I'm a British citizen, although I have lived and worked in the Netherlands since 1983. I came here on a three year assignment, but fell in love with the country, and one Dutchman in particular, and so have stayed here ever since. On the 13th December 2006 I also became a Dutch citizen.
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