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Barack Obama v. Simon Corbell

By johnboy 26 September 2012 26

Last month Labor’s Simon Corbell decided to legislate against religious villification.

Last night the US President Barack Obama spoke to the UN General Assembly about why Simon Corbell is wrong:

Here in the United States, countless publications provoke offense. Like me, the majority of Americans are Christian, and yet we do not ban blasphemy against our most sacred beliefs. As President of our country and Commander-in-Chief of our military, I accept that people are going to call me awful things every day — (laughter) — and I will always defend their right to do so. (Applause.)

Americans have fought and died around the globe to protect the right of all people to express their views, even views that we profoundly disagree with. We do not do so because we support hateful speech, but because our founders understood that without such protections, the capacity of each individual to express their own views and practice their own faith may be threatened. We do so because in a diverse society, efforts to restrict speech can quickly become a tool to silence critics and oppress minorities.

We do so because given the power of faith in our lives, and the passion that religious differences can inflame, the strongest weapon against hateful speech is not repression; it is more speech — the voices of tolerance that rally against bigotry and blasphemy, and lift up the values of understanding and mutual respect.

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26 Responses to
Barack Obama v. Simon Corbell
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Darkfalz 1:54 am 27 Sep 12

We don’t have free speech. Racial vilification laws is not free speech. Laws against questioning any aspect of the holocaust (as exist in some parts of Europe) are not free speech. Now, I don’t agree with intentionally provoking people or trying to cause offence but it shouldn’t be against the law, and certainly not in an appropriate forum amongst like minded individuals. The problem is we let certain mostly distasteful opinions become unlawful and now it’s looking quite hypocritical not to extend it to religion (or gender). As for Obama, this guy wants to put people like Assange into Guantanamo and is constantly cracking down on leaks in his own government. He’s put people to death via predator drone for having committed no crime other than speaking out against the US (like al-Awlaki). So again, he’s got qualifiers on what “freedom of speech” is and where it should apply.

Truthiness said :

How many people have been “disappeared” because their views contradicted Obama’s?

name one.

astrojax 3:40 pm 26 Sep 12

julian assange.

just sayin’…

Truthiness 3:17 pm 26 Sep 12

Masquara said :

as Canberrans, aren’t we concerned about the public
service requiring those of us who are public servants to curtail our opinions, even as private citizens?

Are we allowed to talk about it?

Masquara 3:01 pm 26 Sep 12

steele_blade said :

Truthiness said :

Everyone should be able to post bile, its up to us to put on our big kid pants and not be so mortally offended by words.

Even if those words whip a mob into a frenzy? And we finish with riots like Cronulla or the CBD? (I’m not arguing against you, I’m still just looking for the line in the sand, if there is one.)

On a related point, what about shouting obscenities at a person? Shouldn’t that be free speech too?

Yep. Mob frenzy is something that a free-speech society might well have to deal with – so as not to submit to, say, “behead those who contradict the prophet” advocates. I fervently hope that freedom of speech prevails and that – however odious – Pocock’s comments are not censored.
Shouting obscenties at a person is an assault and can be dealt with without free speech legislation.

On a related note – as Canberrans, aren’t we concerned about the public service requiring those of us who are public servants to curtail our opinions, even as private citizens?

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