John Stuart Mill's Model Of Speech Analysis

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This paper will endeavor to apply John Stuart Mill’s model of free speech to a situation brought to the forefront in an episode of TVO’s The Agenda, titled What is Wrong with Mark Steyn? The episode explores the issue of Maclean’s magazine refusing to publish a response to a series of articles by Steyn that were being viewed as hateful, as well as potentially harmful, to Muslim people in Canada. It will be argued that Mill would advocate for Maclean’s to publish a response to Steyn’s hateful speech because, if not challenged and clarified by opposing opinion, such speech could lead to direct harm of Canada’s Muslim population. However, while this paper will generally agree with Mill’s likely position in regards to the free speech issues raised …show more content…
However, that declaration is preceded by section 1 which states “[The Charter] guarantees the rights and freedoms set out in it subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society” (1982). These two passages are laid out in non-chronological order to emphasize the caveat imposed by the Charter; while freedom of speech is important to the Canadian democratic society, the government will intervene in some circumstances. The Criminal Code of Canada (1985) dedicates sections 318 and 319 to instances in which the government will intercede in freedom of speech as follows: Advocating genocide, Public incitement of hatred, Willful incitement of hatred. Thus, if speech is hateful, and likely to harm an individual or group, it is illegal under current Canadian …show more content…
In Mill’s ideal utilitarian liberal democracy, where the state takes his harm principle and tyranny of the majority threat into consideration, surely the state would have cause to pursue legal remedy to Mark Steyn’s speech. To that end, Canadian laws are theoretically sufficient where they apply to the limits of speech (though, in practice, they appear to be applied unequally and unfairly). However, regardless of Mill’s potential stance, and given the current role of Canadian press as an open source of information to citizens, the state should not decide what a free press should print. It is a morally difficult stance to take when printed material is considered hateful and potentially harmful but, if a free press is a cornerstone of democracy, it is a principled position meant to ensure continued liberty of

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