rule 42: Nothing is sacred

[H]e solemnly announced in the discussion that there is nothing in the whole world that would make men love their fellow men; that there exists no law of nature that man should love mankind, and that if there is and has been any love on earth up to now, it has come not from natural law but solely from people’s belief in their immortality. Ivan Fyodorovich added parenthetically that that is what all natural law consists of, so that were mankind’s belief in its immortality to be destroyed, not only love but also any living power to continue the life of the world would at once dry up in it. Not only that, but then nothing would be immoral any longer, everything would be permitted.

-Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov, 1880

Translator’s note:

The millenials, as the least ‘religious’ generation ever, demonstrate Ivan Karamazov’s claim that there is no natural law uniting humanity. Yet, as far as free speech is concerned, this resolutely irreligious generation does not hold that everything is permitted. The millenials’ support of government censorship of offensive speech reveals an interesting twist on rule 42: nothing is sacred, not even free speech. Free speech, one of the cornerstones of liberalism, gives rise to offensive speech, which gives rise to illiberal censorship, suggesting that there is, indeed, something sacred in need of protection.

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