the Musings and Rants of a Gay Aucklander, about whatever I fancy
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Monday, November 7, 2011
Won't Somebody Think of the Children!
New Zealand has a long history of sad, joyless, puritan wowsers, out to point their finger and tell us what is best for us. 100 years ago they tried to ban booze. They know better than we do what we should read, listen to or see, of course, because...well...just because.
Yeah, I 'm writing about the ban on Odd Future's appearance at the Big Day Out next year.
Apparently the idea that some of their lyrics might offend us gays is enough to get them banned. Goodness knows that we homos are such delicate wee flowers, it is obvious that hearing people voice nasty words about us will lead to mass suicides.
As Craig Ranapia has pointed out at Public Address, the process around this has been disturbing to say the least. Who the fuck gave Sandra Coney and others the right to act as our censors, on the pretext that some people might be offended?
In a free society we have freedom of speech, and that means that sometimes we will all be offended by what others say. Is it mean? Are those words cruel? Are they sexist/racist/homophobic/transphobic? Are they the complete opposite to everything I hold dear and believe? Tough - that's the price we all pay for a free society.
Yes, of course I am aware of the damage done by bullying and homophobia - I have spent a good deal of my time as an adult fighting it. Banning speech, music or songs that can be classified as homophobic is not the way to go. And if they believe that banning OF is the right thing to do, why don't they go further? Why don't they try and get their music banned totally in the country? Or is it all just a little bit of sanctimonious grandstanding? What next? Will our self-appointed moral guardians start burning the CDs and books that also contain language that can be seen as offensive and bullying? Because there are thousands of them out there. That's a lot of bonfires.
You don't have a right not to be offended.
And the pretext that what someone might say, or has said before, is enough to deny them the right to say what they want is characteristic of totalitarian states, like the old USSR, the old South Africa, or Iran or North Korea today.
Noam Chomsky said it better than I can:
"If you believe in freedom of speech, you believe in freedom of speech for views you don't like. Goebbels was in favor of freedom of speech for views he liked. So was Stalin. If you're in favor of freedom of speech, that means you're in favor of freedom of speech precisely for views you despise." (Chomsky 1992)