Monday, March 9, 2009

Freedom of Speech

It seems to me that one of the significant contributing factors in the Rwanda genocide was RTLM Radio which encouraged hatred and ultimately the slaughter of Tutsis. Though we will never know for sure, had the station been put off the air, I suspect, things would have turned out very much better.

If we always support the freedom of speech, then the radio should have been allow to pump out its calls for genocide.

If we were to ban all broadcasts that promotes violence, then a discussion on whether the US should continue to use military force in Afghanistan would not be allowed.

If we close down media that encourage the law to be broken, then we have stifled discussion on unjust laws.

If we censor pieces that are deemed incitement to hatred, then I would be unable to honestly write my thoughts on the Saudi Religious police who have arrested and charged a 75 year old woman with mingling with two young men, one of who she says she helped raise since he was a baby and the other was delivering some bread. The unfortunate old woman has been sentenced to 40 lashes and prison term. ( see UPI news report )

If we forbid the encouragement of the ethnic cleansing, then the Bible would at the very least need to be edited, removing for example the requests from God that Amalekite men, women, children and infants should be butchered, ( see Samuel Book 1, Chapter 15, verse 3) It cannot be claimed that the Amalekites are entirely a historical people, as the council of advisers in the Reformed Pastafarian Church call are known as the (modern, pacifist, pro-Israeli) Amalekites.

As is often the case, it seems that it is difficult to make up a blanket rule that will sensibly cover all scenarios.

1 comment:

  1. I tried to contact the writer Christopher Hitchens asking him for a comment on the above. I got the following reply:

    It's good to make an exception in the case of inciting violence like in Rwanda or screaming fire in a crowded theater.
    Of course the state-sanctioned use of violence by police or the military is an exception that can be judged by international law.

    Though, alas, the email was signed 'Peter'. I'm not sure if in fact I got the less famous brother.