Watch Me Entertain Myself!

Sacha Guitry once said, "You can pretend to be serious, but you can't pretend to be witty." Oh yes, I'm the great pretender.
(pilot episode: 20 January 2004)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Shock Therapy

What’s the big deal with being shocked or offended? Watch the following clip of author Philip Pullman on freedom of speech:

(Okay, okay, so your internet connection sucks. For those people, here is his soundbite: “No one has the right to live without being shocked. No one has the right to spend their life without being offended. Nobody has to read this book. Nobody has to pick it up. Nobody has to open it. And if they open it and read it, they don’t have to like it. And if you read it and you dislike it, you don’t have to remain silent about it. You can write to me. You can complain about it. You can write to the publisher. You can write to the papers. You can write your own book. You can do all those things. But there your rights stop. Nobody has the right to stop me writing this book. Nobody has the right to stop it being published, or sold, or bought, or read.”)

What struck me most were his first two sentences. If we are to champion democracy and freedom of speech, then we must be ready to be shocked, offended and presented with ideas different or even contrary to ours. That is the price we pay.

What democracy champions is a free market of ideas. In such a state, people are free to discuss, debate and even agree to disagree on ideas. What democracy does not tolerate is vandalism, threats of physical harm and the bullying of one Church over ideas contrary to theirs.

Of course, that is in an ideal world where adults are supposed to think in a mature way and act in a decent manner. Watching the Senate hearings on art and the Mideo Cruz exhibit issue, I’m woefully reminded of how much Reality bites.


Mugen said...

Sometimes, shockwaves do bounce back.

rudeboy said...

Now, Joel, how will the pious clutch their pearls in righteous indignation if we do not give them pearl necklaces in the first place?