Say what you like
(But don’t say that)
Recently, you might be aware, or perhaps more dangerously, unaware of the number of Twitter or Facebook ‘trolls’ on the Internet. Now, while some of these people belong in the Internet ether, aimlessly peddling their tiresome rhetoric, there has sprung from this a dangerous culture of being ‘offended’. We belong to a society where our view, tweets and opinions can reach a whole number of demographics and yes, shockingly, some will be offended. The point of this, rather modest, blog post is to defend the right to absolute right of free speech – even for those in society who lack judgment, manners or sanity.
My own opinion, as you might’ve already guessed, is rather simple: the right of others to freedom of speech must include telling people things that may not wish to hear. To me the right of freedom of speech is just that – a right, and if the right is denied to one side, however crackpot or on the fringe, it can just as easily be denied to another side. Once you say that something is blasphemous or offensive, you are on the quick slope to book burning and silencing opinions you do not agree with. I wish, dear blog reader, I was dealing in conjecture or hyperbole, but I’m not. I refer you to the following comment made by Chief Supt Mark Williams, Police Scotland Edinburgh divisional commander:
‘Any reports of racist, offensive or abusive comments made online will be thoroughly investigated’.
What we are dealing with is euphemism, ‘thoroughly investigated’; we can take to mean that, if the conviction of said ‘offense’ would garner sufficient popularity with the public then there would be a conviction. Who gives him the right to set up an official chair to judge what can be said and what you can think? Who can decide, I know how far you can go and when you’ve gone too far? I have never seen anyone competent enough to tell me, or anyone else, what it might be permissible to say. To pick up on the ‘racist’ part of the, rather incompetent, statement made by the Chief Superintendent, there is now an increasing trend linking the criticism of Islam and racism. This is under the dangerous guise of ‘Islamophobia’.
The O.E.D. defines this as:
‘A hatred or fear of Islam or Muslims, especially as a political force’.
This, aside from being a sloppy definition, which is it O.E.D. hatred or fear? Islam or Muslims? I can fear Islam, but not fear Muslims; I can hate the precepts of Islam, but not fear Muslims. This ambiguity has allowed a dangerous ban on the criticism of Islam under the unfounded guise of racism. Ever since the Fatwa was issued against Salman Rushdie for his book ‘The Satanic Verses’, there has been a perceptible stifling of the criticism of Islam in the public sphere. All the time, in propaganda...