My latest piece at MercatorNet looks at the burden of offensiveness implicit in a defense of free speech, of which Chesterton wrote:
This listening to truth and error, to heretics, to fools, to intellectual bullies, to desperate partisans, to mere chatterers, to systematic poisoners of the mind, is the hardest lesson that humanity has ever been set to learn.
This piece was prompted by a Tasmanian Greens party candidate’s complaint to the anti-discrimination commissioner about a document defending and explaining the Catholic church’s position on marriage.
How do we balance the offense felt by the complainant against the freedom of the church to express its own principles and tradition? The answer lies in Chesterton’s depiction of free speech not as a self-evident good, but as a terrible burden nonetheless worth bearing.