Under attack | The Economist: "
Intolerance among Western liberals also has wholly unintended consequences. Even despots know that locking up mouthy but non-violent dissidents is disreputable. Nearly all countries have laws that protect freedom of speech. So authoritarians are always looking out for respectable-sounding excuses to trample on it. National security is one. Russia recently sentenced Vadim Tyumentsev, a blogger, to five years in prison for promoting “extremism”, after he criticised Russian policy in Ukraine. “Hate speech” is another. China locks up campaigners for Tibetan independence for “inciting ethnic hatred”; Saudi Arabia flogs blasphemers; Indians can be jailed for up to three years for promoting disharmony “on grounds of religion, race...caste...or any other ground whatsoever”.
The threat to free speech on Western campuses is very different from that faced by atheists in Afghanistan or democrats in China. But when progressive thinkers agree that offensive words should be censored, it helps authoritarian regimes to justify their own much harsher restrictions and intolerant religious groups their violence. When human-rights campaigners object to what is happening under oppressive regimes, despots can point out that liberal democracies such as France and Spain also criminalise those who “glorify” or “defend” terrorism, and that many Western countries make it a crime to insult a religion or to incite racial hatred."
'via Blog this'