John Stuart Mill is known for his broader idea of free speech as radical toleration. He believed that an enlightened person should be willing to hear out views with which he doesn't agree -- both in order to test his own understanding and to strengthen it. This spirit of free speech is the essence of pluralism. But we are starting to see this spirit lost in America.
- Ordinary people go to town hall meetings to express concerns and displeasure with policy proposals and are called "mobs" and worse.
- Nativist Tom Tancredo goes to UNC-Chapel Hill to express his views only to have bricks thrown at him and be shouted down. I think he's wrong. But I didn't get a chance to hear him, as he was silenced.
- John Mackey is boycotted because he dared challenge leftwing orthodoxy on heath care reform.
We have clearly gotten to the point where free speech has devolved. Toleration and open discourse is, well, no longer tolerated. We are slowly becoming a place of mere de jure free speech. And even that is being eroded by the day. I have to blame so-called "progressives" the most for this. They are people for whom the end justifies the means. So any lip-service they occasionally pay to civil liberties is but a tool of convenience to be employed on the way to getting things their way. A new cold civil war is emerging.