Tag Archive: freedom of speech


A few days ago i wrote a piece on ‘Freedom of Speech’ and the fact that i feel like i may be the only person in the world who doesn’t think it’s such a great idea.

To be honest, i was expecting a bit of a backlash, but no-one seemed particularly interested – in commenting either way.

Then i read a really great piece by Megan Butler on a friend’s blog, titled  ‘We need to talk about Charlie’ in which she reminded us of the November achievement of landing a spacecraft on a comet hurtling through space, which didn’t seem to get quite as much attention as the scantily-clad gun-toting women who featured on the shirt of Dr Matt Taylor, who gave a press conference about the event.

Megan basically shouted out a call for consistency in the things we do and don’t allow, if we are calling for freedom. She ended off her piece with these words:

“I need to point out that I think both Taylor’s shirt and the Charlie Hebdo cartoons are awful. But freedom means that people are free to choose well as well as to choose badly. I’m Catholic and have very limited experience in the headscarf-wearing department. However, for me, supporting free speech and freedom of expression means supporting more than the right to publish drawings; it means supporting the right for people to wear what they choose even if it isn’t what I would choose.

So, while “Je suis Charlie” is the campaign gathering the media attention, we need to be able to say “Je suis Susan” or “Je suis Matt” with as much conviction.”

i still wasn’t completely sold on the idea of free speech, but the idea of being consistent if we’re calling for it resonated strongly. And then i read this comment by Shingai Tichatonga Ngara on a Facebook share of Megan’s post:

My only question/caveat is that freedom of speech does not imply freedom from consequence. The power of being able to speak freely comes hand in hand with the responsibility to deal with the outcomes of that free speech.

And i really liked that. The idea that freedom of speech allows you to say stupid, mean or even hurtful things. But that it doesn’t condone the saying of those things or mean that you will be free of consequence. So yes, you can post that racist statement on Twitter, but also you just lost your job because your company doesn’t have to hire a racist. Or something like that.

i don’t think this pulls me completely across to the ‘Fight for everyone to have Freedom of Speech’ crowd, but i do think that it paints a broader picture that is helpful.

What about you? Do you think everyone should be able to say whatever they want to say all the time? Or should there be some systems or controls?

[To see the rest of Megan’s article, head across to Swart Donkey over here]

i should probably disable comments on this one, but i generally want to understand.

Let me just jump in and say it, although i do feel like i am the only person in the world that feels like this, given the fuss people generally put up about this sort of thing, altho i don’t know that i’ve had many direct conversations about it specifically, but here it is:

I don’t know that i believe that Freedom of Speech should be a right.

There, i said it. [Hides behind couch]


For so many people [and it feels like everyone, feel free to let me know if there is anyone else out there who actually, gasp, thinks the same as me on this, and i am also open to the possibility that i could be wrong in my opinion] it feels like this is no-questions-asked a right that each and every person in the world should have.

You know, ‘smart’ slogans like this:


I call Bullshit.

Maybe it’s just because i have a blog with a comments section where people have come and told me i hate animals or i hate people who work with animals, or where in the past week a group of trolling trolls have set up camp to spew their racist rants [some of which i have published as i try give space for most comments, but a fair amount which i actually just could not bring myself to share with anyone else cos of their complete lack of compassion or human decency]…

Maybe it’s because i have spent any time in a comments section where a person has written about religion or LGBT rights or race or rape culture or the fair treatment of women…

Maybe it’s because of sitting in a waiting room yesterday listening to the kind of pure-offensive-hate-speech rap music that was blared out on the streets of Kensington almost daily when we lived there and you know what, mister misogynic anti-woman rapper guy, i DON’T believe you should have freedom of speech if you are going to use it that way. I really just don’t.

Maybe it’s simply because sometimes [often!] people say some really stupid and really mean and really unnecessary stuff. And i just do not quite understand why we need to fight or die or rally or anything to allow that.

Having said all that:

[1] How would you police it if it weren’t so? Probably impossible, because one person’s “clever satirical barb” is another’s “mouth instrument of satan!” – it is a subjective thing and so would clearly be quite difficult to figure out what is okay and what is not.

[2] i saw a cartoon by the Charlie Hebdo people that i found incredibly offensive in terms of mocking the Trinity involved in a three way sex act. So i would say that that kind of ‘Freedom of Speech’ is not something i’m super happy to fight for, because it is hurtful by mocking something that is the most important thing in my life. However, even with this picture in mind, that NEVER makes it okay for them to be killed. God is definitely big enough to defend Himself and they will stand before Him one day. So while i am opposed to ‘Freedom of Speech’ being the entitled mantra of so many, i do not think that killing someone for misusing it is ever okay.

So that’s me on this, but i am genuinely curious as to why others [and seemingly everyone else in the world?] seems to think that freedom of speech should be a given. Please take a moment and let me know your thoughts…

[For my follow-up piece on the Debris that can accompany Freedom of Speech, click here] 

Bloomberg Businessweek is one of the publications that carries the story of comedian Gilbert Gottfriend [probly don’t recognise the name but if you’re old you would probly recognise him from the ‘The Problem Child’ movies with John Ritter as well as being the voice of Iago from the Aladdin movies] who was fired this week after Tweeting inappropriate jokes about the Japanese crisis…

March 14 (Bloomberg) — Aflac Inc., the biggest seller of supplemental insurance, fired comedian Gilbert Gottfried, the voice of its duck mascot in the U.S., after comments he made about tsunami victims in Japan, the firm’s biggest market.

“Gilbert’s recent comments about the crisis in Japan were lacking in humor and certainly do not represent the thoughts and feelings of anyone at Aflac,” said Michael Zuna, senior vice president and chief marketing officer, in a statement today from the Columbus, Georgia-based insurer.

[rest of the article here]

which i think is great! earlier this year my buddy Dunc gifted me and tbV with tickets to go and watch Jeff Dunham [the ‘Achmed the dead terrorist’ ventriloquist comedian] who we used to really enjoy. we have all his dvds and were really looking forward to the show at Grand West. If it had been easier to walk out than the place where we were seated i think i would have. Jeff spent most of the show making bitter biting comments about his ex-wife. Very very awkward and almost completely not funny, just a little bit freaky. When he mentioned that the divorce happened two years previously i could not believe it cos the way he was speaking it sounded like it had just happened. It was just completely horrible and i lost a lot of respect for him that nite.

then a good mate of ours gave us a Ricky Gervais standup comedy video which was very edgy and hectic in terms of content [altho very funny for the most part] but near the end he went for a routine that basically was hitting the topic of child abuse and as much as a bunch of the stuff he’d done before was close to the line, it just suddenly crossed into a place of JUST DON’T GO THERE!

and that is the point of this blog. there is a line. i’m sure it looks different to different people, but there are some things you really should never joke about. ever. an international crisis that has just seen thousands of people die and hundreds of thousands lose everything is one of those things. so is child abuse. and rape. and the holocaust. and i’m sure a whole lot more. some things are just not worth the laugh.

which is why in this ‘freedom of speech’ [is it still freedom when your freedom starts encroaching on another persons?] society we live in, it was refreshing to see Aflac Inc. show some integrity and immediacy in terms of firing Gottfried and hopefully sending out a message that there are some things that will not be tolerated, even in comedy.

at the other end of the spectrum, doing a lot less harm, except maybe to himself, we have charlie sheen whose latest warlock plan is to marry a tree. according to http://www.doorstepnews.com, he said: “I’m going to marry a tree because the other type of marriage didn’t work so I’m going to marry a tree.” [http://doorstepnews.com/charlie-sheen-might-as-well-just-marry-a-tree]

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