Thursday, May 7, 2009
News Talk Online May 7, 2009: Censorship, Political Correctness
Images of the Prophet Mohammad spark violent protests.
The displaying of a painting depicting President Obama as a messiah on a cross is canceled for fear of violence after conservative Christians loudly complain.
Radical Muslims, anti-Muslim Dutch politician Geert Wilders and conservative U.S. radio talk show host Michael Savage are all barred from entering the UK.
A man distributing anti-Muslim pamphlets outside a Canadian school is convicted of a hate speech crime.
U.S. radio talk show host Don Imus is fired from a job for making a racially insensitive remark.
At the Republican National Convention, some Ron Paul delegates had trouble being seated. And Paul, a candidate for the Republican nomination for president, was, along with other candidates, precluded from participating in some of the presidential debates.
Where do we draw the line between free speech and censorship? Does the concept of free speech extend to making hateful and hurtful remarks?
In my mind, the line is crossed when one threatens or advocates violence. Short of that, distasteful speech and expression should be tolerated. If not, we all suffer the possibility that our political commentary will be muzzled under the guise of protecting us all from hateful rhetoric. The last thing we need are governments who regulate what is and what is not acceptable expression. That leads to abuse and the silencing of those who criticize their governments.
But the issue extends far beyond official government control. I find it interesting, for example, that some of the same people who so strongly objected to Muslims demonstrating against offensive depictions of the Prophet Mohammad demanded that the "messiah Obama" painting be destroyed as offensive to Christan's. Oftentimes art offends and stimulates discourse. Some people find Michelangelo's David offensive because it is anatomically correct. Should it be destroyed because some of us find it offensive?