Saturday, January 10, 2015

Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones...

All religious leaders condemned the assassination of the staff at the great French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, France’s Private Eye. I remember, however, that in wake of the fatwa against Salman Rushdie, religious leaders warned against hurting people’s feelings. In my submission to the House of Lords Committee considering proposals for strengthening blasphemy laws, I quoted the wise old nursery rhyme, Sticks and stones/may break my bones/but names will never hurt me. This was the drift of the majority of submissions, and the proposal for strengthening the blasphemy laws never got anywhere, but offending somebody’s feelings had become a heinous offense just the same. Jeremy Clarkson nearly lost his job at the BBC because he was thought to use an offensive word –and the examples are many. Wasn’t  a student arrested after a demonstration because he made an offensive comment to a mounted policeman?

The infantilization of Western societies continues apace. People who proclaim their support for free speech, but at the same time condemn the use of offensive words, of hurting people’s feelings in any way, are among the greatest enemies of free speech and add to the infantile atmosphere in which crazed individuals resort to murder because their beliefs were insulted. We live in a pluralistic society where people believe in different things and are touchy about different things. Hardly a day goes by without my feelings being deeply hurt, but that’s the price I am willing to pay for freedom of speech. There can be no serious discussion on any subject if we must restrain ourselves from offending anybody. The media could do a lot to restore sanity.

5 comments:

Marc said...

I have to say I felt a slight release of tension when I had finished reading your post. A sense of relief that you came down on the right side! None of that slippery "punch in the face" jab that we got from the Pope recently, for example. Where a person seems to have the right, moral attitude towards something, but then betrays a fatal misapprehension with a throw-away comment.
May I be so bold as to ask, when will your new novel 3 Wishes be published in English? I loved the extracts you teased uys with on your Facebook page.

Stephen Vizinczey said...


Dear Marc,
for the last few days I was thinking of writing a statement setting out why I decided to publish ,my politically inmcortrect novel myself and how. Your letter prompterd me to actually start to write it as a letter to you, and you will hear from me in a few days.
thanks, Stephen

Marc said...

Dear Stephen,
I am gobsmacked to see just now your note back to me about your "3 Wishes." I would love to read it - your novel, I mean - or as distant second, your letter to me about it! In any event, some things are worth waiting for, your lapidary, ever-burning prose among them. Happy New Year, and rock on.

Marianne Kearns said...

God blessa youse
-Fr. Sarducci, ol SNL

Marianne Kearns said...

God blessa youse
-Fr. Sarducci, ol SNL