The ―paradox of tolerance‖ admonishes us that tolerance of the intolerant leads to intolerance. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the constitutions and laws of Western European democracies that adhere to the principle of freedom of speech all heed the warning of this conundrum and do not afford legal protection to extremist speech.
While in Western European democracies, the speech of non-democratic extremists has been successfully outlawed, in the United States the first amendment right to freedom of speech has been interpreted to encompass radical oration. The traditional justifications of this American stance originate in the belief that speech is entitled to greater tolerance than other kinds of activity. They are based on the belief that speech itself is valuable, and thus ascribe positive value to a very broad range of speech.
According to the classical model, freedom of speech serves an indispensable function in the process of democratic self-government. From this perspective, the free speech principle need only protect political speech, comprised of all the facts, theories, and opinions relating to any issue on which the citizens must vote. Proponents of this view insist that even extremist views cannot be concealed from voting citizens, if these views bear on any public issue before them.
Protection of free speech serves the collective self-interests of a self-governing society made up of all rational, equal, and fully participating citizens who take their civic duties seriously. The fortress model is built on a foundation of pessimism, individualism, relativism, and self-doubt. At its deepest level, the fortress model values freedom of speech as a necessary precondition to the discovery and preservation of truth, but even at this level the function of speech remains primarily negative.
From this perspective, the government and a majority of the people pose a great danger of intolerance. In spite of the high probability that their beliefs will eventually prove to be false, it is argued, people nonetheless tend to feel certain about them and, consequently, feel justified in requiring others to conform. Thus, the fortress model‘s prescription for combating the tendency to censor nonconforming views is to overprotect speech by providing a broad ―buffer zone‖ that encompasses extremist speech because its protection substantially diminishes the probability that inherently valuable speech will be suppressed.
The fortress model is ―built on a foundation of pessimism, individualism, relativism, and self-doubt.‖ Based on information in the passage, each of the following statements is a view held by those who believe in the fortress model of free speech EXCEPT:
A. extremist political speech should be prohibited because it threatens democratic government.
B. freedom of political speech is necessary in order to protect democratic government.
C. a ban on extremist political speech raises the probability that more important political speech will also be banned.
D. the government is unlikely to permit political speech that it finds objectionable unless the law prevents it from curbing political speech.
E. the government should ensure that extremist speech, as long as it is political, is protected
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