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In 2014, researchers from a French-Saudi expedition studying rock inscriptions in southern Saudi Arabia announced they had discovered what could be the oldest texts written in the Arabic alphabet. Your comment was successfully submitted and will be published in accordance with site policy.If you would like to be notified when your comment is published, please fill in your email address in the form below.The shift from the more political to the more individualistic view of liberty may be seen in how the constitutional guarantees with respect to speech and the press are typically spoken of in the United States.Restraints upon speaking and publishing, and indeed upon action generally, are fewer now than at most times in the history of the country.(Even those rulers who act without the authority of the people must take care to shape their people in accordance with the needs and circumstances of their regime.This kind of effort need not be altogether selfish on the part of such rulers, since all regimes do have an interest in law and order, in common decency, and in a routine reliability or loyalty.) It should be evident that a people entrusted with the power of self-government must be able to exercise a disciplined judgment: not everything goes, and there are better and worse things awaiting the community and its citizens.This respect for individuality has its roots both in Christian doctrines and in the (not unrelated) sovereignty of the self reflected in state-of-nature theories about the foundations of social organization.Vital to this approach is the general opinion about the nature and sanctity of the human soul.
This public admission of agnosticism scandalized Protagoras’s fellow Greeks.Thus, “freedom of speech,” which is constitutionally guaranteed to the people of the United States, first comes to view in Anglo-American legal history as a guarantee for the members of the British Parliament assembled to discuss the affairs of the kingdom.In the circumstances of a people actually governing itself, it is obvious that there is no substitute for freedom of speech and of the press, particularly as that freedom permits an informed access to information and opinions about political matters.The old, or traditional, argument against censorship was much less individualistic and much more political in its orientation, making more of another sense of liberty.According to that sense, if a people is to be self-governing, it must have access to all information and arguments that may be relevant to its ability to discuss public affairs fully and to assess in a competent manner the conduct of the officials it chooses.Thus, Leo Strauss has observed, “The quarrel between the Ancients and the Moderns concerns eventually, and perhaps even from the beginning, the status of ‘individuality.’ ” All this is to say that individualism is made much of in modernity.The status, then, of censorship very much depends on the standing of government itself and of legitimate authority, revealing still another aspect of the complicated relation between “the individual and the state.” One critical source of the contemporary repudiation of censorship in the West depends on something that may be distinctive to modernity, an emphasis upon the dignity of the individual.That officer, who conducted the census, regulated the morals of the citizens counted and classified.But, however honourable the origins of its name, censorship itself is today generally regarded as a relic of an unenlightened and much more oppressive age.What is particularly difficult to argue for, and to maintain, is an arrangement that, while it leaves a people clearly free politically to discuss fully all matters of public interest with a view toward governing itself, routinely prepares that same people for an effective exercise of its considerable freedom.In such circumstances, there are some who would take the case for, and the rhetoric of, liberty one step farther, insisting that no one should try to tell anyone else what kind of person he should be.