Monday, January 14, 2013

So much for free speeech …

Minister calls for sacking of Observer columnist Burchill - and paper's editor | Media | (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

How did we get to this point where, because we don't agree with what some someone says, we insist that said person shouldn't be allowed to say what they think? I want to know what's on everyone's mind. I don't want everyone to agree with me.


  1. julie2:56 PM

    Wow Frank. Although I hate what she said, this country (had she written here) is all about defending to the death her right to say it. Hate speech laws aren't good I think. They lead to muzzling of all..."They told you to shut up and and I said nothing, then they told me to shut up and there was no one left to defend me."

    On the other hand, there is an argument that this kind of writing is like shouting "Fire" in a crowded theater -- it shouldn't be protected because of its potentially harmful result. Here is a column on that point- same newspaper, another writer:

    "...Once you decide that some people's lives are not real, it becomes OK to abuse them; for people without the outlet of writing for a national newspaper, it becomes OK to shout things in the street, or worse. The trouble with Burchill's list of negative epithets for trans people is that she legitimises the basic currency of hate speech. Trans people are one of the very few minorities who some progressives feel entitled to mock and misrepresent – but then Burchill parted company with the left a long time ago. By now, she has parted company with common decency.

    What I would ask Moore and Burchill is this: do you think that what you've written makes it more or less likely that an elderly trans woman living on a housing estate will get jostled on the stairs by her neighbours? Or that a teen trans man will be punched in the street? It's not anger-fuelled tweets, but that provocation, done with malice by people who should know better, that is the real bullying."

    This is kind of like what I remember John Gardner's point to be in "The Art of Writing" about novel writing; Novels should be about good and affirming things. If one isn't and someone reads it and kills themself as a result, that's a bad thing.

    In fact, in my experience, those that are twits are soon found out or ignored -- people ARE smart and decent for the most part. And her article if anything has reinforced positive regard of trans people.

    I would say let her spew her hate speech. And I'm trans.

  2. I knew I had forwarded this to just the right person, Julie. To all that you have said, I would add only this: Keeping it free for her to say what she feels, gives the rest of us the opportunity to stand up and object. The important thing in all of this, I think, is people making up their own minds — and acting accordingly — to defend and protect people they love. All of my life I have never allowed people to be picked on because some asshole didn't like them.