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Kindly Inquisitors: The New Attacks on Free Thought Paperback – April 1, 1995

ISBN-13: 978-0226705767 ISBN-10: 0226705765

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Kindly Inquisitors: The New Attacks on Free Thought + Beyond the Burning Cross: A Landmark Case of Race, Censorship, and the First Amendment + The First Amendment, Cases, Comments, Questions, 5th (American Casebooks)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 187 pages
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press (April 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226705765
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226705767
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.6 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #503,563 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this elegant but narrow essay, Rauch ( The Outnation: A Search for the Soul of Japan ) argues forcefully against those--including fundamentalists, egalitarians and humanitarians--whose attempts to censor speech will lead, he fears, to intellectual authoritarianism. Rauch investigates the development of the culture of critical, liberal inquiry in which strong opinions are pitted against each other. He criticizes "epistemological pacifists" who "think you can keep knowledge and get rid of pain," and deftly dissects convoluted "hate speech" regulations. But Rauch, unlike some First Amendment theorists, does not suggest ways to foster a culture richer in speech and inquiry; his long-term view--"good criticism drives out bad"--may not carry much weight with those who feel censorship has a role in fighting pressing societal inequities.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Kirkus Reviews

A compelling defense of free speech against its new enemies, who range from the mosques of Iran to the groves of American academe. In place of Justice Holmes's old standard of truth competing in ``the marketplace of ideas,'' Rauch (The Outnation, 1992--not reviewed; contributing editor to National Journal) substitutes a new one: that of ``liberal science.'' Formulated by skeptical epistemologists like Hume and Locke in reaction to the authoritarian regulation of knowledge advocated by Plato, liberal science sorts through the hurly-burly of conflicting claims of truth, marginalizing those that cannot pass scrutiny while accepting that even today's accepted truth may need to be revised tomorrow. But after years of nurturing the spirit of intellectual freedom and the pursuit of knowledge, this principle recently has been shaken, with the defining moment being Western governments' weak-kneed reaction to the 1989 death threat made by the Ayatollah Khomeini against Salman Rushdie. Rauch divides challengers to free speech into three camps: ``fundamentalists,'' who believe truth is obvious and not to be questioned; ``egalitarians,'' who think that the beliefs of all sincere people deserve equal respect; and ``humanitarians,'' who hold that one must never offend. But whether they are Moslems enraged at negative portrayals of Islam, creationists pressing to have their theory taught along with evolution, or minorities imposing university codes against ``hate speech,'' all these groups wish to revive the Inquisition notion that ``people who hold wrong and hurtful opinions should be punished for the good of society.'' Rauch's strength here lies in his relentless insistence that liberal science, though hurtful at times, is the best means of advancing knowledge and avoiding ``herdthink.'' Rauch, Jewish and gay, calls not just for toleration but for ``the hard self-discipline which requires us to live with offense.'' A powerful salvo in the war over political correctness--and a ringing reaffirmation of the principles of free thought as conceived by Locke, John Stuart Mill, and others. -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Customer Reviews

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35 of 39 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 6, 1999
Format: Paperback
For all those who think that the demands of "creation-sciencists" merely for an equal hearing with evolutionary theorists in science class are fair and reasonable, for all those who believe that people who say offensive and hurtful things in universities and elsewhere deserve to be silenced for the common good, or for all those who are convinced that potentially destructive and divisive ideas (such as homophobia, sexism or Holocaust-denial) should be surpressed to make our society more civil and inclusive, this book is for you. For it will show you, lucidly and elegantly, why you are wrong. Our way forward is through what Rauch calls the "liberal scientific" enterprise, the greatest gift of the Enlightenment, not through demands for the excision or surpression of what many consider dangerous or offensive ideas. That, Rauch, shows is the shortcut from modern democracy to a sort of middle-age regulated despotism. The ideas are stimulating in the extreme, the writing exemplary in its clarity, passion and lucidity, and the message about as important as you can get. A must-read, especially for anyone living or working in a university environment.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Anthony R. Stevens on May 4, 2002
Format: Paperback
This book is superb. A well-written, exhaustively researched treatise on the philosophy of "liberal science" and a look at the attacks made on that philosophy by (mostly) well-meaning advocates of inclusion, equality, and civil discourse.
I'm somewhat at a loss to try and describe how important I think this book is. I rarely comment on books I've ordered, but I feel that EVERY educated person should read this book and understand the reasons why an open, critical, unfettered exchange of ideas is of central importance to civilization and to the progress of human knowledge.
Read this book. You'll be glad you did.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A general reader on March 26, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a short and profound book. I've read it four times and it gets better every time. In fact it is the only book that I have ever read four times. It has changed my views on free speech for ever.

What's the core argument in the book? Well, one cannot explain it in a short review, which is always a good sign (if one could, what would be the point of reading an entire book?). But in a nutshell, it is a defense of unlimited free speech. I say *unlimited* because while most people see value in free speech, most people would also argue that there have to be some limits (hate speech, for example, or denying the holocaust). This makes intuitive sense, and this was also my point of view - before reading this book. The book has convinced me that the power of free speech lies EXACTLY in the ability to express opposing views, no matter what they are. (This is a gross oversimplification of the book - you really have to read it).

This is not a political book - it is a philosophical book, but one that doesn't require any previous formal philosophical education. Anyone can, and I think everyone should read it.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Anthony R. Stevens on May 4, 2002
Format: Paperback
This book is superb. A well-written, exhaustively researched treatise on the philosophy of "liberal science" and a look at the attacks made on that philosophy by (mostly) well-meaning advocates of inclusion, equality, and civil discourse.
I'm somewhat at a loss to try and describe how important I think this book is. I rarely comment on books I've ordered, but I feel that EVERY educated person should read this book and understand the reasons why an open, critical, unfettered exchange of ideas is of central importance to civilization and to the progress of human knowledge.
Read this book. You'll be glad you did.
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