Heresy and Free Speech
Seeking Contributions for excommunicated (the newsletter of the International Society for Heresy Studies), Vol. 4, No. 2,
Every heretic sooner or later faces issues of freedom of speech (or its opposite: censorship). While there may be mute heresies of a ritual nature, most of the time, heresy expresses itself in language, and it would not be termed heresy if this dissenting discourse were not in tension with normative ways of talking about faith, doctrine, and values.
In a secular context, the principles enshrined in John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty (1859) have long defined free speech as a central pillar of liberal democracy, safeguarding political rights, equal protection, intellectual flourishing, and societal harmony. However, the twenty-first century has ushered in a new phase of uncertainty about the value of free speech. Increasingly, the idea of unfettered, uncensored expression has become a polarizing issue: While the right has made freedom of speech its latest battle cry, those on the left of the political spectrum worry that free speech can be “weaponized.” Advocates of hate speech laws call for censorship of certain expressions, and many on the left would consider a free speech absolutist a heretic in their own ranks. Clearly, what for some is the heresy of free speech is for others the heresy of censorship. It is out of this clash of ideas that our call for papers emerges.
This next issue of exCommunicated wants to explore the issue of free speech and censorship from many different angles, including the artistic, religious, political, and philosophical angles. Please submit contributions of up to 1,200 words to Bernard Schweizer at firstname.lastname@example.org by February 1, 2019.