Monday, 3 March 2008

MORE ABOUT CENSORSHIP

Is there an unalienable human right that goes something like this: “I hold this truth to be self evident: That I have the right not to be offended.”?

Jeez. I hope not.

Recently, I posted something that caused a flurry of angry comments. “Look back in ten years and you’ll see how insensitive this post is…” someone lectured.

The commenters, (all anon, of course) had been offended, and were taking the stance that their rights had been violated in some way.

But we do not, and should not have such a ‘right’.

We are perilously close to enshrining such a right in law, aren’t we? Maybe we already have. But can someone tell me how it will work?

You and yours are offended by something I do or say (or write…). So I am prevented from doing/saying/writing. Thus, I become the offended party, as I feel deep offence that my freedom of speech has been denied.

It’s a nonsense.

Rowan William’s recent foray into the limelight seemed to be based on the belief that everyone has the right not to be offended.

ROWAN WILLIAMS ARTICLE HERE

and it’s not new. The theatre, literature, art, music… have all at one time or another, in places not that far from home, been censored for “causing people to be offended.”

CHANNEL 4 WRITE-UP HERE

The above article cites examples of plays being taken off the stage because sections of the community were offended by the subject matter.

In last year's National Short Story Prize, one of the shortlist was not broadcast by the BBC in case it offended some listeners.

Well I am offended that we were not allowed to make up our own minds whether to turn the radio off.

I am offended that we were not allowed to make up our own minds whether to purchase a theatre ticket.

And I am deeply offended that we are approaching, it appears, a time when not only the authorities, but other writers and artists move to censor each other.


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6 comments:

Sarah Hilary said...

I think it was the other Rowan (Atkinson) who said "The right to offend is more important than the right not to be offended." Vigorous debate about this on Radio 4 this afternoon but I missed most of it. They were talking about art, specifically, but it applies to literature equally. One man remarked that it was duty of art to "speak the unspeakable" or words to that effect. Thanks for a thought-provoking post, Vanessa.

Sarah Hilary said...

"a time when not only the authorities, but other writers and artists move to censor each other"

I meant to say - this is the most troubling aspect of the whole business, I think.

Vanessa G said...

Hi Sarah

Yep. I wish I'd heard the radio. Blast!

I do find it extraordinary that even on a tiny scale, this is happening...

Sarah Hilary said...

I found out it was Beyond Belief and you can listen again online via this link:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/programmes/beyond_belief/index.shtml?focuswin

They were discussing cartoons about the Prophet Mohammed, so as you may imagine it got heated, but they had some defendants on the side of no-censorship.

Vanessa G said...

Thanks so much. I look forward to listening.

v

Nik's Blog said...

Very well said, Vanessa.

Nik