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Le Monde Diplomatique - France | Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Noam Chomky demands absolute freedom of expression

The American intellectual Noam Chomsky considers that in Europe, "freedom of expression is defined in a very restrictive manner." Interviewed by Daniel Mermet, he develops this notion. "In my opinion, the essential question is whether the State has the right to determine what historical truth is and punish anyone who strays from it? An affirmative answer is utterly Stalinist. French intellectuals have a hard time admitting that this is how they are inclined. And yet ... The State should not have the right to punish anyone who believes the sun goes round Earth. There is something very elementary about freedom of expression: either you defend it in the case of opinions you abhor, or you don't defend it at all. ... There is something distressing and scandalous about having to debate these questions two centuries after Voltaire declared: 'I will defend my opinions to my dying day, but will die for you to be able to defend yours'."

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