Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Comment Is Free - ish

Sue Blackmore writing in the Guardian's Comment is Free, argues that far from disciplining him, Cambridge University shoud have defended the pupil responsible for printing the offensive Mohammed cartoons in student rag, Clareification.

I think the "offended" students are the real culprits, and the college should have had the guts to stand up to them in the name of academic freedom - and the good old freedom to laugh at ideas we find silly or disagree with.

The president of the university's Islamic society said "I found the magazine hugely offensive ... freedom of expression does not constitute a freedom to offend." I say to him - oh yes it does, and you should be ashamed of yourself.

The freedom to laugh and poke fun at things we disagree with is fundamental to freedom of thought. And freedom of thought is fundamental to education, scholarship, and learning - all the things that Cambridge University should be standing up for.

Three hearty cheers for Sue Blackmore.

Via The Pub Philosopher

Update; Mar 8
Sue Blackmore left this comment on Richard Dawkins' blog.
I don't hate Muslims; it's the religion of Islam that I find so disgusting and I say so in my lectures. I don't explain this gratuitously to offend. Nevertheless I defend everyone's right to do so if they wish.

Several people have argued that one should not gratuitously offend people just for the sake of it. I agree. I am not asking to be allowed just to have fun offending people, I offend them because I think their ideas are wrong, harmful, dangerous, unfair, oppressive or just plain silly and I want (for all of us) the freedom to say so.

Blackmore later discovered that The Guardian had removed her link to the actual Danish cartoons and replaced it with a link that referred to the cartoons (this is also the BBC's policy). Sue had this to say

Are Guardian editors unwilling even to link to a site that might offend some religious people?

Apparently so.

Sue - i prefer your hair with the light blue down the side and the shocking pink at the front.