Free Speech and the Harm Principle

Counterpoint: Free Speech and the Harm Principle | MIT Technology Review: " . . . The only principle I can imagine working is yours, where “harm” is interpreted to mean physical or commercial injury but excludes personal, religious, or ideological offense.

Pontin’s version is clearly correct insofar as it excludes “religious or ideological offense” from the category of what lawyers call “cognizable” harms. That odd term “cognizable” is meant to capture this dual understanding. The offense that people take at the conduct of others cannot be dismissed with a wave of the hand, given that these feelings are often deep and long–lasting. They are in fact real harms, subjectively experienced. So the willingness to cut them out of the harm principle cannot rest on a simple denial of the fact, but must rest on the awareness that for the long-term success of the system, each person must waive that claim against all others, no matter how acute the feeling. . . ."

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