The media's right to offend.

7:30:00 AM

Something really queer: If this was a newspaper article, and I said that cat lovers generally smell bad, I'd be breaking the law!
Why? Because, it seems, my statement will offend cat lovers! Sweeping generalizations, satire, and jokes that hurt the sentiments of the minority (yes, yes, cat lovers are rare, people) are not just frowned upon, but are illegal.
To say the least, I think the "law" needs to do some self assessment and stop behaving like a prissy nursery school teacher (and yes, every bit of offense in this article is intended). No matter what spin people try to put on it, penalizing offensive opinions is going against the right to freedom of expression.
First off, the very principle of this law is ridiculous. No doubt, the public expression of offensive opinions is going to cause discontent and anger among people who disagree with the opinion. It might even lead to violence on the part of the offended party. The same way that accusing the school bully of being a jerk is going to cause... problems. But who the hell can blame anyone but the bully for this?
Any offended party has every right to argue the opinion they dislike. Most newspapers, as far as I remember, carry a letters to the editor column. If that route is difficult (say with a news channel), there is always another news source that will be only too happy to publicise informed opinion that counters the offense causing variant.
Isn't that the way we deal with offensive statements in daily life too? If someone says you are an evil mass murderer because you're fat (ahem!), you make an argument to the contrary, you snub the gal, or you ignore her and ask those who support you to ignore her.
If events were to prove that the slur on you was unsubstantiated, the mutt who slurred in the first place is going to be in hot water without you having to cry mama.
The same is the case with a news source. Someone making repeated racial slurs in their columns, or making factually incorrect statements many times is going to be known as biased and unreliable. What is the need for a law to "protect" the sentiments of people?
"To prevent the occurrence of violence!", says the random nut. Eh? Is there some law saying people with hurt sentiments can beat up the "offender"? Last I checked, violence was supposed to be prevented anyway, no matter the source. Or are you going to make the claim that the fatwa against Salman Rushdie is justified under some law?
I fail to see how diverting attention away from people who go Knife! Stab! Murder! every time they disagree with someone is the solution to any problem. It's them the law must concentrate on, not people expressing their opinions!
My second problem with this law is that many times, deliberately offensive opinion, in the form of satire, is a very legitimate way of discussing certain issues. Must this whole way of expression be curbed?
Thirdly, for the law to be effective, someone needs to decide in which cases the offending opinion is truly offensive. So, a few men in ridiculous wigs will decide if my offense is, in fact, valid enough for them to poke their nose in. Really? Then, oh ridiculously wigged ones, explain this to me: since when has it been the purview of the law to decide when a persons feeling is genuine?
Preventing offensive speech, it seems, not only interferes with the right to expression, but also the right to feel as you want about something. Extraordinary, in a system claiming to be a liberal democracy.
It's only to be expected, I suppose, in a society filled with pompous majorities and touchy minorities. But really, wake up people. Deal with offense like adults. Are your beliefs and values so tenuous that you need reassurance from the law that you are correct? Can't you stand up for yourself, as you do in daily life, when someone offends you?
To "mother" law: can you stop treating the media like a bunch of four year olds? The consequences of offending opinions are obvious to them. If they make a choice to go ahead anyway, they can shoulder any legal effect of their actions. All you need to do is ensure that they aren't threatened with violence, which is your job anyway.
And yes, all cat lovers, law worshipers, those affiliated to majorities or minorities... anyone, in fact, who feels offended by my opinions, there's a comments section below. Fight me!

You Might Also Like

8 comments

Popular Posts

Like us on Facebook