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?


Anonymous said...

Now this should provoke a good discussion Gary!!

Let's take the case of Michael Savage. He has no audience in the UK (until now!!), he had not expressed an intention to visit the UK, and he has never advocated violence - yet Jaqui Smith deems him to be a 'potential' danger!! Since when does this woman need to protect us from potential evils?? This woman who cheats the people with her false claims for expenses. Let someone who is not morally corrupt make these sort of judgments!!
She is also the same woman who blocked Geert Wilders coming into the country because she bowed down to pressure from the Muslim community. Yet she does nothing to stop hate preachers who wish to see the destruction of the systems, law and Government from preaching their hate.
What she has probably accomplished it to expand the audience of Savage as she did with Geert Wilder's film 'Fitnah'. Way to go Jaqui Smith lol

(Oh, and btw, rumour has it that she is going to be replaced in the next Cabinet re-shuffle in June/July!!)

Ron said...

Freedom of speech is a constitutional right. I should never be invaded. When we look a society today, it seems that we are losing that right of free speech. This country was built on free speech. political correctness is simply over rated. It is a form of hiding the "Truth".

Anonymous said...

One man's free speech is another man's HATE. Someone somewhere will always be offended. You will never please everyone. When did we, in America, go politically correct? If we all agreed on everything, we would be bored. Chastising people for a different point of view is not the answer as well. Where does one draw the line?

Aerial Epiphany said...

One can argue that free speech just short of advocating violence would open the possibility of employers blurting out the "n" word and such other racial epithets, or cussing incessantly at their employees, or perhaps calling their female employees a "w" word, "c" word or "s" word for a botched task. We have to be careful when it comes to free speech, and understand that some comments are much too hateful and insidious to be uttered. Some people have never been surrounded by profanity, yet they tolerate it, but to what end? Ultimately, the people who utter these sort of remarks are tolerated, and even cheered by the society at large, but to a select few, they appear as nothing but hate mongering neanderthals, with lack of self control.

Anonymous said...

The problem is, our Founding Fathers trusted that people would be decent enough in their demeanor that they would not resort to offensive language, manners, etc. Most Americans nowdays have no idea what "rules of civility" entails. But "the" Founding Father of all Founding Fathers did know- and at a young age- wrote about them (see: )

Censorship is never a necessity in a civil society. The problem is: we have become a world of brattish people who think we should be able to say or even do- whatever we so desire- under the umbrella of free speech.

Do I find certain terms offensive? Yes- because they're intended to BE offensive. It is not creating offense to say "here is where I disagree with [whatever or whomever]". It is creating offense to call someone the "c" word, as Aerial calls it.

Our biggest problem today is a lack of common sense in addressing these issues.

-LD McLellan

PS: Gary, there are some rooms in the HR section I will not venture into because their language is all too often offensive--- and intended to be so.

Anonymous said...

Two of the big questions we need to ask are:
Who is doing the muzzling
Why, to what end?

THE LonesomeDove said...

Was the topic of our liberal brethren's jockeying to bring back the so-called Fairness Doctrine broached? (Yes, the cat's out of the bag - and apparently trying to get through the back door using various other names, because afterall, Obama's teleprompter made him say that he's not in favor of bringing back "The Fairness Doctrine" *wink wink* - pretty much like his teleprompter made him say a lot of things that he wouldn't, shouldn't, couldn't and shan't do - with God as my witness, doing his best Scarlett O'Hara impersonation, but that have come or are coming to pass.)

So, for the sake of clarity - and Pete, I propose that they just call it The C'mon! Let's Just Muzzle Conservative Free Speech Act and be done with it, but of course that would be forthright and honest...

Gary Baumgarten said...

It did Dovy and, as I pointed out during the show, the original Fairness Doctrine was pushed by conservatives to muzzle liberals.

It matters not who is being silenced. No matter our respective political perspectives, we should be united in opposition to such measures.

DangerRus said...

On free speech >>>>> "These words are owned by me" (c)2009 DangerRus

For my next trick I will patent invasive species and sue you when they infect your fields.