Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Hitchens on Media Self Censorship

Christopher Hitchens has another must read article, on the Vanity Fair website, about the 1989 fatwa against Salman Rushdie and how that has frightened the media into pleasing fundamentalists. (Read the entire article)

So there is now a hidden partner in our cultural and academic and publishing and broadcasting world: a shadowy figure that has, uninvited, drawn up a chair to the table. He never speaks. He doesn’t have to. But he is very well understood. The late playwright Simon Gray was alluding to him when he said that Nicholas Hytner, the head of London’s National Theatre, might put on a play mocking Christianity but never one that questioned Islam. I brushed up against the unacknowledged censor myself when I went on CNN to defend the Danish cartoons and found that, though the network would show the relevant page of the newspaper, it had pixelated the cartoons themselves. And this in an age when the image is everything. The lady anchor did not blush to tell me that the network was obliterating its very stock-in-trade (newsworthy pictures) out of sheer fear.

Hitchens knocks down the multicultural sensitivity argument beautifully:
In other words, the situation is the exact reverse of what the condescending multiculturalists say it is. To indulge the idea of religious censorship by the threat of violence is to insult and undermine precisely those in the Muslim world who are its intellectual cream, and who want to testify for their own liberty—and for ours. It is also to make the patronizing assumption that the leaders of mobs and the inciters of goons are the authentic representatives of Muslim opinion. What could be more “offensive” than that?

Unless we have more people stand up for the importance of free speech, I imagine it will get worse in the future. Children in school are taught that the worst crime is to offend somebody.

No comments:

Post a Comment