Tuesday, February 24, 2009

On The Right to be Offended

I found this fascinating debate on the limits of freedom of speech (in 9 parts) between Indian diplomat and novelist Shashi Tharoor who is Under-Secretary General for Communications at the UN, and God is Not Great author Christopher Hitchens. It was recorded at the Hay festival last year and is chaired by Joan Bakewell.

9 comments:

savante said...

Talking about censorship! Our cable channels censored the word gay during the Oscars broadcast. Gave me a conniption!

Anonymous said...

What?!? Tell me more! Did they just bleep the word out?!? Was it during coverage of "Milk"? Sorry, I didn't watch the Oscars and don't know when the word came up....

-- Preeta

bibliobibuli said...

yes, i got a message from Pang last night. am really shocked by that! i should put that upfront ...

Jordan said...

I'd watch those videos, but Christopher Hitchens is so bloody annoying I don't think I could sit through one part, let alone nine. Sounds interesting, though.

bibliobibuli said...

the parts are short - just a few minutes each. hitchens i thought was ok on this.

Anonymous said...

Jordan just demonstrated the flip part of the freedom of speech - the freedom not to listen :)

-Jen

Anonymous said...

That's exactly it.. you have the freedom to completely ignore it, or criticize it, or praise it or whatever. If you feel like being really offended, have a nice time.

Incidentally, this is why I don't have a blog. It would mean removing spam. As much as I hate and disagree with the concept of spam, I have to allow that spammers have the right to be heard, and thus I can't remove them.

I can't remove them and I can't not remove them, I can't settle that dichotomy so I don't have a blog.

Anonymous said...

You can bar spam from your own blog - you are after all NOT prohibiting them from starting their own platforms to spread their own messages.

Your blog is like your home - if a guest misbehaves, then out he goes.

If you go into someone's home, you don't ask the home owner to rearrange the furniture or change the curtains to suit your own tastes. Same for immigrants going to other countries: don't ask the host countries to change their laws to suit you.

- Poppadumdum

Anonymous said...

Pop -

What I am NOT prohibiting them from is not the problem here, it's what I AM prohibiting them from. I am prohibiting them from saying something which is offensive to me. I can't go around saying "free speech is a basic human right" and then start tossing people who choose to exercise the rights I say they should have. If I did what you said, then my house would be a sort of mini-dictatorship.

I can't say one thing and then sort of justify it by saying "only if..." because that would just be discrimination wouldn't it?