NicF

Free Speech and Being Offended

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    Excellent article here from Frankie Boyle about free speak and offending people. I'm not a big fan of his normally but he talks a lot of sense here.

     

    http://www.frankieboyle.com/frankie/free-speech.html

     

    His last paragraph kind of says it all for me

     

    "We don't live in a shared reality, we each live in a reality of our own, and causing upset is often the price of trying to reach each other. It's always easier to dismiss other people than to go through the awkward and time consuming process of understanding them. We have given taking offence a social status it doesn't deserve: it's not much more than a way of avoiding difficult conversations."

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    An author friend of mine posted the article on facebook and I thought it was interesting and worth sharing. I don't particularly like Frankie Boyle, but I do think he has a point and I think that the idea that whether something offensive is a personal thing and not culturally shared would be an interesting debate.

     

    I don't think that certain words are inherently offensive - they may be offensive to you and may even be considered offensive to a large number of the population, but they are not necessarily offensive to everyone. Most of us on here are migrants in a foreign country and our perception of what is offensive could be vastly different at times to the people around us. Does that make us right and them wrong? Or them right and us wrong? No, it just means that we all have different expectations about what is acceptable.

    Edited by NicF

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    I heard an interesting comment on the radio this afternoon about free speech - basically it was about reconciling the rights of people to speak freely, versus the rights of people not to have to listen to offensive opinions. It's a tough one. For me it's a case of - if you wouldn't like to hear it being said about your religion, your race, your family, your friends, your values. then keep it inside your head. Kind of like the old saying "Keep silent and let some people think you are an idiot, rather than opening your mouth and removing all doubt"

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    I agree @Diane and I've always gone by the whole do unto others as you would have others do unto you kind of thing. However just because I don't think something is offensive doesn't mean someone else won't. I don't think you can in any way legislate to prevent offense though and I think freedom of speech is far too important to start restricting what can and cannot be legally said. Not because it wouldn't be desirable in some cases but because you have to draw a line somewhere and it would be almost impossible to find where the line should be drawn to stop everyone being offended.

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    However just because I don't think something is offensive doesn't mean someone else won't.

     

    I agree with all your post, NicF, but I thought I'd comment on this part.

     

    My daughter told me that her friend will not tolerate people referring to 'cripples', but uses the word to describe himself. She felt that this is ok, whilst I feel that it's an example of how confusing the whole issue can be.

    We went to see a fringe show entitled 'Racism' by Tahir. (He plays Habib in Housos, Fat Pizza, Swift and Shift) It was extremely good natured, funny, and looked at the different forms of racism. I found a couple of things particularly interesting. That people were eager to be grouped according ethnicity, even when it was apparent that it was an historic relationship rather than recent migration. The other thing was the people Tahir asked, rated themselves as 6+/10 with 10 being fully racist.

     

    I guess my second paragraph went a bit off topic, so sorry, but hopefully it made some kind of sense!

     

    LC

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