The case was dropped and is celebrated as another important knock-back for censorship. Sadly I felt unable to join in with the good cheer.There’s a shocker…
Something is deeply troubling about the validation given to Walker and those who think they have the right to say whatever they wish and excitedly share with others the thrills of extreme violence against women.Yes, how dare they think they might have the right to say what they want! Don’t they realise that they aren’t journalists, just little people? The nerve!
The formidable Geoffrey Robertson QC (who rose to fame fighting the case brought against Oz) is very pleased indeed. Jo Glanville, editor of Index Against Censorship (an organisation I support but not blindly) righteously asserts: "The prosecution should not have been brought in the first place. Since the landmark obscenity cases of the 1960s and 1970s, writers have been protected so they can explore the extremes of human behaviour. This case posed a serious threat to that freedom."Now, if champions of free speech like that were allied against my argument, I’d be shutting up and reflecting on how I might be wrong.
But the Yasmonster is paid by the word, obviously:
Hmmm. Is that so? So If Walker had written, say, the same fantasy but on the sexual torture of Anne Frank, would Index have backed him? Or if a wannabe Muslim fiction writer had done the same, would he have the right to "explore the extremes of human behaviour"? I hope the answer to both these hypothetical questions is No.I hope it’s ‘Yes’.
Not because I’d want to read it, but because it’s not against the law to do so.
We all exercise judgements on what we say or don't say in public. You stop yourself because you don't want to hurt people, or to instigate a street brawl. There are laws that sacrifice freedom of speech for a greater good- harmony between races, public safety, social gentility and so on.Some would say we’ve gone far, far too far down that road already…
Not everybody agrees on where the lines should be, but most know there are lines. These restraints belong to a pre-internet era and cannot contain or temper the limitlessness of the web. And yet we must, over the next few years, define the boundaries of what is acceptable in this brazen new world.We must, must we? Says who?
Peter Tatchell tells me that lies are circulated about him and he receives constant threats. Polly Toynbee and others are subjected to mob fury for no good reason. Are we just supposed to put up with this behaviour because the web must be free?So, don’t they have any comeback, due to the nature of the Internet?
Yes. They have the same comeback as anyone else:
In 2006, Ukip's Michael Keith won damages after joining a chatroom where anonymous postings smeared his character and in 2008 a CEO of a housing business got a large payout after a rival company carried out a malicious personal smear campaign against him.See? We don’t need any further laws or restrictions. The system works for the Internet too.
But Yasmin still isn’t satisfied:
We don't yet have a really effective way of restraining material promoting racism, sexism, violence (except against children), homophobia, and other group hatreds. It must come if we are to make the best use of this amazing technology and not let it pull us down to a barbarism posing as freedom.And obviously, the best way to ‘make use of this amazing technology’ is to let the State regulate and control it.
It’s worked for everything else, right?