Saturday, 15 September 2012

Free Speech, the US and the Muslim world

A crap, nasty film made by crap, nasty people to provoke trouble has achieved its aim. Thanks to a rabid TV channel dedicated to maintaining a fierce level of indignation among its viewers (think Daily Mail times 100) a clip of the film has stirred up antiAmerican and anti-western sentiment across the Middle-East. Embassies are under attack and mobs demand revenge for perceived ‘insult’. 

There are many thousands of better reasons to get angry with the US and its lapdog chum  the UK. Try all those innocent victims who died uncounted in Iraq. Or those regarded as ‘collateral damage’ from ongoing drone attacks. Or even those who were shot from on high in that revolting clip exposed on Wikileaks - for which revelation the messenger is now facing real and present danger. 

“It is hard not to notice, and be disturbed by, the vastly different reactions whenever innocent Americans are killed, as opposed to when Americans are doing the killing of innocents.”  ‘The Tragic Consulate Killings...’ Glen Greenwald

Obomber decides what Muslim innocents live or die on a daily basis, sans a shred of due process. Where's the outrage? Where are the bio's of these people? Where's the sadness? Where are the headlines?
US media reaction to this attack is institutionalized racism at its worst. ChicagoDaveM,
article and reaction, Guardian Comment 15/9/12”

Salman Rushdie, who has more reason than most to understand the Muslim Fatwah mentality, expressed concern at the closing down of free speech in large swathes of the world. It frequently places defenders of free speech in uncomfortable places. As a member of Amnesty International for many years it has not been uncommon to support one set of oppressed and then watch them as they eventually achieve power -  and duly become the oppressors. 

Nevertheless, the principle of free speech is an absolute in a free society. 

“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it’ - often misattributed to Voltaire, but actually written by Evelyn Beatrice Hall in a biography of Voltaire - stands as a cornerstone of free speech.

The realities of free speech are more nuanced. Before we condemn free speech deniers in the arab world we should look at the more subtle ways in which free speech is denied in ours. An excellent example has been the (un)coverage of the Duchess of Cambridge’s assets. Was this really number one news item yesterday? And why have our media been so soft on the bankers and financiers who have caused our distress? It could not have anything to do with our ridiculous libel laws could it? Or how the mainstream media collude with our elite to put out an ‘austerity’ view with no other alternatives getting an airing, thereby keeping the self-serving 'elite' in place.

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