Wednesday, 14 January 2015

I'm offended... what's new?

One aspect of the current debate around freedom of speech is totally offensive to me. For me, the debate lacks nuance and it lacks for any attempt at empathy or understanding. It feels like an all or nothing affair, where interpreting the statements of others to fit a perceived offense has become the norm, eclipsing any form of informed debate.

Stuff offends me. I'm a human being. I have beliefs and values like anyone else. They matter to me. When somebody says something that challenges these things it can make me feel pretty darn angry and hurt, as well as make me think. If I'm challenged in the right, or wrong, way it can actually cause me mental anguish and harm. That's not a good thing.

I support freedom of speech. It's a really important value in society. It gives everyone the opportunity to be heard and it helps prevent tyranny of the majority as well as tyranny of the prevailing elite. It gives oversight to the prevailing opinions of the day, challenging orthodoxy and subjecting even the most obvious seeming truisms to much deserved scrutiny.

I am allowed to have these views. They are my right. As much as it is the right of anyone else to have their own views, irrespective of what they are. I am stating that these are my views. I don't have anyone else's views, and I certainly have bugger all right to tell someone else what their views are, no matter that doing so may confirm my prejudices. 

So I say to everyone involved in debating freedom of speech, tell me your views if you feel the need to, ask me what my views are should you wish to, challenge my views as I state them if you like, denigrate my views and ridicule me if you must, but please don't tell me what my views are. Please also show the same courtesy to everyone else.

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