Oct 1 2012

The Right To Offend? A Polis Debate with David Aaronovitch & Mehdi Hasan

David Aaronovitch and Mehdi Hasan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What right is there under freedom of speech to cause offence? We brought together David Aaronovitch, Times columnist and author of Voodoo Histories with Mehdi Hasan, Political Director of Huffington Post UK and co-author of ED: The Milibands and the Making of a Labour Leader to debate what is at stake.

The Twitter hashtag(s) were #Offend and #PolisOff

You can watch a video of the debate here

Here’s a report of the event in the Huffington Post UK

Here’s one very thoughtful and entertaining blog response

Here’s a report by someone who wasn’t actually there, but it doesn’t stop her from making her point via the coverage of the debate. Some interesting responses in the comments amongst the usual knee-jerking.

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2 Responses to The Right To Offend? A Polis Debate with David Aaronovitch & Mehdi Hasan

  1. Graham says:

    Will there be a podcast/video archive of this? I won’t be able to make the event, but would be very interested to hear the debate.

  2. Eric says:

    Isn’t one big problem the lack of mutuality among those who take offence?
    It’s not an accident that this argument crystallizes very quickly around Islam, or if you’re on the side of the offence takers, islamophobia.
    And I have not yet heard a Muslim interested in knowing about what causes me offence, or in tempering their utterances in response. There is a very great deal of what Mr Mehdi says that causes me strong physical feelings of offence, every bit I imagine as visceral as the emotions his religious zeal provides him.
    And yet, what he wants from me is that I swallow those feelings, learn to accommodate him within my world and afford him toleration. In return, he does not offer any mutual regard, but only to continue believing that because he takes offence collectively and with his sectarian fellows to cloak his umbrage in the self-righteousness of religious dogma. And to demand I limit more and more what I say.
    A rigorous look at his case uncovers quickly that it is not dignity for all that he craves, but a universal obeisance to his personal favourite prophet (may his rest be so peaceful that he fades from memory soon).
    Perhaps the next time you want this debate, you should focus instead on the taking of offence. The great civilizing triumph of freedom of speech is not the speech. It’s my effort when I hear distasteful unpleasantness such as the superstitious misogynist venom peddled by Mr Mehdi, I control the urges it occasions in me. Let’s talk more about being offended.

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