Saturday, May 16, 2015

Borovoy's Gone But His Frankenstein Monster Lingers On

In the NatPo today, George Jonas pays tribute to his friend Alan Borovoy, who died earlier this week. Jonas reminisces about the debates he and Borovoy used to have back in the days when we were much freer, which is to say, before Borovoy and his leftist pals up cooked up our wacky "human rights" system. Jonas notes that while he, a libertarian who had escaped from the Soviet orbit, warned about potential problems with such "human rights" bodies from the outset, Borovoy and the other leftists poo-poo'd such fears:
It always puzzled me why Alan, a civil libertarian by vocation as well as avocation, would burn the midnight oil to set up laws and institutions designed to reduce the very liberties he was safeguarding and promoting by day. The answer, it seemed, was that he never imagined human rights commissions, a progeny of the progressive left, could be a threat to free expression. In my column a few days ago I wrote: “It never occurred to [Alan] that civil liberties can be threatened from the left.”
Unfettered by the illusions of the left, conservative civil libertarians could see it easily. Deny liberty to conduct; it’ll soon be denied to speech, or vice versa. Freedom is indivisible. Cutting it in half means killing it...
Later on, of course, Borovoy came to see that these commissions should not have the power to regulate our speech, and he became a vocal opponent of the state censorship provision written into our "human rights" legislation. Jonas, his old sparring partner, applauds him for this effort--as do I. That said, however, this is the comment I left on the NatPo site:
That Borovoy couldn't foresee where his good intentions could lead--i.e. to "human rights" commissions running roughshod over us--constitutes a failure of imagination on an epic scale. So while, yes, I applaud him for sticking to his guns re free speech, I'm not so thrilled with the nutty apparatus he helped erect, and which he leaves behind as a big part of his legacy.

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