Sunday, July 08, 2007

Censorship? No thanks. A little self-restraint? Yes please!!!

Two ladies study copies of 'Lady Chatterley's lover' following the 1960 obscenity trial
pic courtesy Getty Images
Freedom of speech and freedom of expression- two concepts that should be cherished and nurtered in a civilised, liberal democracy. It is not surprising then that many people, this author included, have a tendancy to find any sort of censorship, especially on moral or political grounds, objectional. As every undergraduate politics student has drumed in them, it was John Stuart Mill who in 1859 wrote, "We can never be sure that the opinion we are endeavoring to stifle is a false opinion; and if we were sure, stifling it would be an evil still."
That said, unlike Mill, I do believe that authors have a responsibilty to consider how their work will be considerered by their wider readership and refain if their work is likely to cause widespred offence without spreading any objective good or furthering the battle for ideas. I feel to this day that Samon Rushdie's publishers decision to publish his book 'The Satanic Verses' was a study in how best to provoke the ire and distress of a small but vocal minority group within the UK. To put it bluntly, just because people can write pretty much anything they like, it doesn't mean they should.
On Friday, I wrote to one of my political opponents, Councillor Matt Stevens. Here is the text of my letter;
Dear Councillor Stevens,
Politics is a rough sport and probably best not undertaken by those of a sensitive disposition.
That said, the post on your blog likening the Conservative Council’s policies in some areas to those of the Brown shirts is profoundly offensive.
The Brown shirts or Sturmabteilung (often shortened to SA) were responsible for some horrific atrocities against the Jews and opponents of the Nazi Party in the 1930s and members of that organisation committed a number of documented acts of genocide during the Second World War.
To draw a link between that organisation and the administration of the council just because you happen to be politically opposed to some of the policies the council is pursuing is deeply irresponsible.
I write as someone whose family made considerable sacrifices fighting the organisation you claim the current administration are allied to.
I hope you will consider removing the offending article.
Yours sincerely,
Matthew Dean.
For those that are even inclined, Cllr Steven's post can be read HERE.
I shall leave it to readers to make up their own minds if they think it is an appropriate piece of commentary or not. Please be moderate in your use of language if you wish to make a post on the subject on this blog.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe somebody should report Cllr Stephens comments to the councillors standards ombudsman?

8:40 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I see that Cllr Stephens has removed the offending text. But in reading his comments I noticed that the Southampton Labour Party website has a link to his blog called 'Matt's blog'. It makes it seem like his blog is credible and the official line from Labour in our city.

Can somebody also write to Labour and ask them to remove the link to his blog. Which I am sure many Labour Party members would disapprove of.

6:29 am  
Blogger Matt Dean said...

I am surprised that they link to his 'blog' (I say blog but it doesn't allow comments and has no links so really is just a website) given the quality of his writing and indeed the content but it is quite properly a matter for Southampton Labour Party.

1:41 pm  

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