What Noam Chomsky Can Teach Us About Freedom of Speech

“If you believe in freedom of speech, you believe in freedom of speech for views you don’t like. Goebbels was in favor of freedom of speech for views he liked. So was Stalin. If you’re in favor of freedom of speech, that means you’re in favor of freedom of speech precisely for views you despise. Otherwise, you’re not in favor of freedom of speech.”
—Noam Chomsky, interview included in Manufacturing Consent

I know what you’re thinking.

Noam Chomsky seems an unlikely companion for a disquisition in defense of civil liberties.

I’m not talking about the authoritarianenemy-definingmenticided Chomsky who in 2021 advocated for the isolation, stigmatization, and deprivation of those who exercise their right to refuse an experimental injection.

The Chomsky who pointed out “the difference between defending a person’s right to express his views and defending the views expressed.”

The Chomsky who condemned the hegemonic State:

“There’s no concern for justice and there never was. States don’t have a concern for justice. States don’t act on moral grounds.…

“They are instruments of power and violence, that’s true of all states; they act in the interests of the groups that dominate them, they spout the nice rhetorical line, but these are just givens of the international system.”

The Chomsky who exposed the hypocrisy of practicing censorship in the name of “protecting” Jews:

“It is a poor service to the memory of the victims of the Holocaust to adopt a central doctrine of their murderers.”

That Chomsky.

But can we learn anything from present-day Chomsky?

We can learn that no matter how awake we think we are, how aware we are of the tricks used to propagandize us, how skeptical we remain of media and the State, or how knowledgeable we are about history, there but for the grace of God go we.

We can learn that we must ceaselessly guard our hearts from the emotional manipulators, our minds from the behavioral psychologists, our souls from the totalitarian morality inverters.

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