This Week In The Right Not To Be Offended — University College London Edition

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20 Responses

  1. Ah, this being the UK, the case of Arkell v. Pressdram is the jurisprudence for them!

    Offending religious bigots is practically a duty, IMO.

  2. Josh says:

    Oh, look! The first contenders for the 2012 Censorious Asshat of the Year Award! That didn't take very long at all.

  3. CTrees says:

    As I understand it, a Muslim found this picture offensive. He found the picture on the Facebook page of an atheist student group. It seems unlikely that the sort of person who would be offended by this picture would have little reason to be on said atheist student group's Facebook page besides to look for things by which to be offended. I mean, I suppose it's possible, but I can't think there are many religious types so uptight that they'd get this offended by bad drawings, who would stick around such a page because they liked to read what was posted. If I'm correct, we're stuck with "Muslim goes looking for reasons to be offended, gets offended, tries to censor students." I just think, if you're the president of Iran taking a day trip to the Holocaust museum, you aren't there because you think it'll be a fun and informative afternoon.

    Now… If this picture had been turned into a poster, and been put up around campus, in public areas? I have a harder time arguing against its removal, simply because one does not need to go looking for things to be offended by, to happen upon it and be offended. I'm on the fence, there, because the public posting would seem calculated to offend, in the same way a badly drawn poster of people in blackface might. I have a hard time siding with people who are selecting their actions for the purposes of dickishness, basically.

    I suppose there is a possibility that one of the normal members started sending tips to Muslims of low fortitude, potentially so as to troll the group as a whole. This… actually seems like something a college student would do "for the lulz."

  4. Tim says:

    First, who is to say that is the prophet Muhammad? If I am not mistaken, there are many, many, many guys named Muhammad. It could be one of them.

    Second, who is to say he is drinking alcohol? That could just as easily be a glass of Coke. Or, if they prefer, dirty river water.

    To sum up: The picture could be Jesus Gonzales of L.A. (a hippy if I have ever seen one) and Muhammad Rogers of Detroit (dressed in his garb for this evening performance at the local community theater's offering of "Lawrence of Arabia") enjoying a delicious and refreshing glass of Coca-Cola in a harmonious and multi-cultural discussion of the current field of GOP candidates.

  5. Grandy says:

    I would argue that, at least where the US government is concerned, that yielding to such pressures is a very possible outcome if we just sit on our hands. The business of government in the US is about running for and winning elections.

    The goat ball-gargling asshats who like to complain about this stuff do so loudly, and they vote. There is no way, [i]today[/i] such an issue could turn a federal election. But the climate where it could isn't necessarily that far off. We must fight against this trend and educate where possible. Where education is not possible, we will probably have to turn to public ridicule.

  6. perlhaqr says:

    Personally, I find censors offensive. Catch 22!

  7. John Burgess says:

    @Grandy: Excuse me? Goat balls, grilled or fried, are very tasty. I've never seen them 'gargled' as that would be a very unproductive way to consume them. You might try them with a really hoppy ale and surprise yourself!

  8. delurking says:

    "confused freedom of speech with the freedom to insult"…

    No, sirs, we have not confused freedom of speech with the freedom to insult. You seem to be ignorant of the obvious fact that the freedom to insult is part of the freedom of speech; simple logic shows that without it there can be no freedom of speech. Lest there be some misunderstanding about our intentions with that last sentence, let me make clear that it is intended to offend you, in the interest of generating useful and enlightening discussion about the freedom of speech in general. We think that when you realize that we not just disagree with you, but find your position moronic, you will then think a little more deeply about your statement in order to try to justify it. Either you yourselves will be enlightened by this process, or you will demonstrate substandard intelligence and then we can ignore you.

  9. A British student union is not quite as far from the national government as you might think. UK student unions serve a role similar to a labor union for the students, and while not officially partisan, my Labourite friend certainly knew the party affiliation of everyone in the student government at my uni (University of Kent, late 2000s) and was concerned with the prospect that the Tories might win the union elections. The individual student unions all belong to the National Union of Students, and the NUS lobbies Parliament like any interest group would.

  10. Acleron says:

    Unfortunately, this sort of reaction has been encouraged here in the UK by many supine politicians. People have the right to be offended, they have the right to feel bad about having their stupidities publicised. They should never have the right to do anything about it except to argue their own position. But in the UK and much of Europe, it is easy to have something taken down, deleted or silenced.

  11. Mark says:

    Arkell v. Pressdram

  12. marco73 says:

    The AMSA is actively searching for offence, in order to increase their power on campus.
    "Look here Mr Dean, our tiger team searched every page on the University web site all last night and found one image that offends us! Bow to our power!"
    All it would take is for someone in administration to give them a good John Cleese dressing down:
    "Look here you bloody ingrates! I've got more important matters than your namby-pamby feelings! Now get out of my office before I sneeze in your general direction!"
    But we all know that since England has become a spine-free zone, adminstration will harumph and cower and give in, and censor the athiests.
    So Ken, has anyone contacted you yet demanding that you take down the Jesus and Mo cartoon? Since they have probably also read some other entries in this site, I'll bet they don't have to guts to take you on

  13. PiperTom says:

    Marco73 wondered if anyone contacted Ken demanding that he take down the Jesus and Mo cartoon. I laughed out loud. …still chuckling.

    It'd be like taking a baseball bat to a neutron star. You can hit it, but it will eat you. Good luck.

  14. Dustin says:

    I always find that argument so strange… that it's a freedom of speech rather than a freedom to offend.

    What freaking value is there in a freedom of speech that is watered down to the point where you can only say stuff that doesn't bother anybody? That makes no freaking sense.

    You need a freedom of speech *only* when that speech pisses somebody off. Even the most dominated subject of the worst tyrant had the 'freedom' to say things that doesn't piss anyone off.

  15. PSBUH (Pig Shit Be Upon Him) says:

    It is clear that the purpose of the cartoon panels is not to initiate serious discussion regarding the holy founders of either religion.

    And yet, somehow, someway, that's actually what is happening, innit?

  16. Bill Poser says:

    In Pakistan, where most Ahmaddiyas live, it is a crime punishable by three years in prison as well as a fine, under Section 298 of the Penal Code, for Ahmadiyya to behave as Muslims behave, to identify themselves as Muslims, to proselytize, or "in any manner whatsoever" to offend the religious feelings of Muslims. You'd think they would understand why censorship of "offensive" statements is such a terrible idea.

  17. Chalkie says:

    ^^ This. Right to freedom of speech makes no sense if you have to clam up because someone doesn't like what you say, and that includes being offended by it.

    Now, the presidential debates would get really surreal if democrats and republicans could apply this standard to each other, and possibly entertaining, but at the end of the day, pointless.

  18. B Chandler says:

    What if you take offense at being censored? Wouldn't that create some kind of rift in the space-time continuum?

  19. markm says:

    "What freaking value is there in a freedom of speech that is watered down to the point where you can only say stuff that doesn't bother anybody? That makes no freaking sense."

    You are missing the point. "Anything that bothers anybody" is never actually banned – rather, an elite gets to decide *which* speech is offensive enough to be banned. And once they have firmly established the principle that, say, a crucifix floating in urine is not "offensive" but a cartoon depicting Mohammed is, because they say so …

  20. David Schwartz says:

    "When examined however, it is clear that these cartoons are not satirical in the least. Satire is characterised by the bringing to light of vices for the purpose of initiating reform within the individual or group of individuals who are satirised." That's exactly what these cartoons are doing. They point out the evil (and absuridty) of the vice at responding to offense with calls for censorhsip. And I'm pretty sure they would consider initiating reform within the groups satirized as success beyond their wildest expectations. These target of the satire is those who would take offense at these depictions.