Free Expression is Like Metaphors
The freedom to express our own opinions is simple and powerful. The reasons why we should use and be able to use this freedom are doubly so.
In fact, it’s so glaringly obvious that I can’t bring myself to talk about it straight. To discuss it in simple terms would be banal and boring.
So, to keep myself interested while I do so, I’m going to use a metaphor. And now that you mention it, I have a suitable metaphor right here: music review.
When some people talk, their views are coloured by their love of the Beatles. Others are deeply affected by their love of The Kinks. And some people just think 60s pop is overrated. When writing reviews, the Beatlites talk of John, Paul, Ringo and George, while the Kinkiers talk of the one true Ray Davies.
And the a-60s-ists are writing articles about how rubbish and uninformed the songs of the day were, and why singing “Ooh! Ah! Ah!” in the background of pop classics sucks. This infuriates the other groups, who take it as a personal insult, even when it’s not.
The Beatlites, already in the majority, just clamp down their political sway, and bear it. They talk about the good old days when the Beatles were the only real pop group, and complain, wrongly, that Beatles fans are in the minority. Some of them get into power based on their knowledge of ancient Wings singles, and use that power expressly to benefit people who loved the White Album above all others.
The Kinkiers, or a select few of them, get totally fucking pissed about the a-60s-ists, and claim that they are being persecuted. Then they burn someone’s house down.
What’s wrong with this fucking picture? I, as an a-60s-ist shouldn’t have to stop saying how much I hate vocables and silly love songs just because some people take it badly.
But more than that. The claim that you hear most often is not people are saying the unspeakable. The claim is that hating 60s pop is OK, and that talking about it is fine, but the way you talked about Lennon just then was offensive, and should be stopped. If only you’d found a better way to say that you didn’t like his trite love songs, or his private life.
The claim of offense is a cheap get out. It’s admitting that you’re allowed to hold different opinions. And it’s admitting that you are allowed to talk about them. But every single instance where you express your opinions openly and clearly; that’s offensive!
In many ways, it’s like Intelligent Design; it dresses itself up in science, agrees that science is right, and the only way to know about the world, then says that all non-Intelligent Design scientists are doing science wrong.
If anything here is offensive, it is that dressing up of personal biases and prejudices in reason and democracy. It is as offensive as it is insidious.
The convention we in the UK are part of: http://www.echr.coe.int/NR/rdonlyres/D5CC24A7-DC13-4318-B457-5C9014916D7A/0/ENG_CONV.pdf. (See Article 10. )
What wiki has to say about us: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_of_speech_by_country#United_Kingdom
One Law for All, the people behind today’s protest, and specifically Maryam Namazie.