Sunday, 13 January 2013

offensive language and freedom of expression

here we go again. When I posted this last September there was some outrage and hissy-fit throwing, with assorted queeny behavior, but hey, don't mix me up with anyone who cares a jot about that kind of stuff, other than being mildly amused by it from time to time. To save you looking if you are a Guardian reader and thus need protection from ideas, it's the MoToons published by the French satirical weekly  Charlie Hebdo. No embassies were burned down following the toons' publication, and there was no rioting in "the Arab world" as some still quaintly call it, despite predictions from Guardianista types that there would be. I imagine Robert Fisk was in there too, but I can't be bothered to look. I had the temerity to suggest that the Front National leader Marine Le Pen might be correct when she said that freedom of expression was not negotiable. Now, freedom of expression is under attack again, this time from a Twitter mob. Twitter is of course quintessentially about freedom of expression; nevertheless the mob attack came from some people who objected to an essay by Suzanne Moore on the bullying and silencing of women, because of a reference she made to trans people. Read it here. The attack, naturally, was ad hominem and not about the issues at all. Suzanne Moore commented on the attack here (caution: don't read the comments if you have just eaten). Things have now moved on, because Julie Burchill supported Suzanne Moore, and wrote a piece saying so, which has been published in The Observer newspaper. You can read it here. Julie Burchill used quite extreme language, and deliberately used back at them the tactic used by the Twitter attackers, namely to refer to those with a particular identity by collective epithets, i.e. intended to apply to that whole group, which would be perceived as offensive by many. So, there was a collective fit of the vapours by the original perpetrators, and comments on the stupid left (example from Laurie Penny: "Fuck Julie Burchill". Nice. Grown-up, hein?) and now the police have been complained to. What next? Lock a person up for expressing views, or using language, that some people don't like?


You know, peeps, if you don't like something you read you could always, er, not read anything by that person any more. You really could.

Oh, and I learned something too. Apparently people like me, identified as female at birth and who remain happy that way, are to be called "cisgender". You know, "cis" like "cistern". We'd better get used to it, hadn't we, girls?


Mr. Mcgranor said...

You all in England, and Europe; are quite restrictive already.

Anonymous said...

Used to have fun at tea-break at work, making commemnts to the ladies such as 'get back in the kitchen'. Of the 5 there, one would sit po-faced, 2 would look blank and the other 2 would laugh and give us a slap round the ear.
The po-faced ones didn't realise that, like Benny Hill, we weren't taking the mickey out of them but out of chauvinists.
Alf Garnett was the same with racism.
(L9 may give you a clue as to where that workplace was Jane)

Anonymous said...

Love Suzanne Moore.

Julie as she said, 'defended her back' well.

I would have thought that the police had better things to do - but hey, in the midst of the Hillsborough debacle and the revelations about the sustained persecution of Stephen Lawrence's brother, this might be a timely distraction. I hope not.