Sunday, December 26, 2004

Free speech is for everyone

Salman Rushdie has spoken out against the British government for its failure to defend free speech after a play that deals with rape and murder in the Sikh community has been forced to close due to pressure from certain Sikh groups.

Why are religious gangs allowed to dictate how people behave in a democracy? If the government won't protect free speech, who will? Nobody should be protected against being offended. This is not hate speech, this is art. If individuals choose to live in a democratic society they must be prepared to hear things they may not want to hear.

I would like to ask how we would have responded if this were a play dealing with sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. All of society feels entitled to talk about that issue. However, for some reason, when it is another faith we are willing to accept censorship. If we allow members of minority groups to have their expression crushed by their religious or cultural communities, we are saying that they are not deserving of equal protections and that certain members of society are not going to be held to the same standards as everybody else.

Are we going to allow the same mentality that forced Salman Rushdie into hiding to gain hold in Western society?

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