show sidebar & content

Speaking freely must never be a crime

28 Nov 2007 / in general stuff, going off on one

Official: “You have been found guilty by the elders of the town of uttering the name of our Lord, and so, as a blasphemer, you are to be stoned to death.”

Blasphemer: “Look. I’d had a lovely supper, and all I said to my wife was ‘That piece of halibut was good enough for Jehovah.’
From Monty Python’s ‘Life of Brian’

Blasphemy. You can be beaten, whipped and put to death for it. Right now a British woman faces 40 lashes for taking the name ‘Muhammed’ in vain. But as far as I am concerned, there is no such crime. Surely free speech can never be a crime. Or can it? Where are the boundaries?

In Oxford on Tuesday protestors tried to prevent two speakers with utterly abhorrant views from taking part in a debate at the Union. The boundaries were tested. I firmly believe they should have been allowed to express their poisonous views. Only then can they be examined, debated, exposed and – hopefully – rejected by the majority as offensive nonsense.

There is loads of stuff I find offensive and I’m sure there’s loads that offends you. Take the smug holier-than-thou preachers on the main street in Oxford who tell me they’re saved and I’m a miserable sinner – which I am not. And the pope … that ignorant fool who tells people not to use condoms – which could save their lives.

And there is nothing I can do to shut him up. The pope can say what he likes. Because we have freedom of speech. (In any case, millions of people already see through the noxious cloud of guilt and fear he espouses.)

Philip Pullman, who’s book ‘Northern lights’ was turned into the film ‘The Golden Compass’ which goes on general release today , has been ‘accused’ of expressing atheism in his books. Marvellous! It’s about time someone spoke intelligently to children about being godless. It’s got those pope-lickers squawking of course! But Pullman neatly sums it up:

“Every single religion that has a monotheistic god ends up by persecuting other people and killing them because they don’t accept him. Wherever you look in history, you find that. It’s still going on.”

The same god-botherers who object to Pullman must have been delighted with the overt religious metaphors in C S Lewis’s ‘Narnia’ or in Spielberg’s film ‘ET’ Now, all too briefly, the tables have turned. Gah! but I’m ranting now.

And that’s the point! The very fact I can write this blog and express my views so freely and so strongly (whether you agree with them or not! ) is precious and wonderful.

For an opposite view of the racist filthmongers being allowed to speak in Oxford read the account of my friend Antonia on her blog.

This is a demo store for testing purposes — no orders shall be fulfilled.