Right to Free Speech or the Right to be Offended?

So in the last week two news items have got me bothered and had me in debate with people over the right to say what we please against the right to be offended. Firstly this isn’t really the question! It’s like the abortion debate: Right to Choose or Right to Life- let me declare right now I’m in the first camp firmly!! But that debate much like the free speech/ offence debate is not actually framed correctly. The right for woman to decide what happens with her body is not anti-life, the pro-lifers are simply ANTI-CHOICE. The right to free speech is essential in all healthy societies as is the right to be offended, what is not correct is to say you have the right not to be offended by someones views.

First the British Boxer Tyson Fury opens his mouth to the press expressing some of the most backwards opinions in recent memoryUnknown (Donald Trump excluded but I’ll come to him). Any person expressing opinions that include- “I’m not sexist. I believe a woman’s best place is in the kitchen and on her back. That’s my personal belief. Making me a good cup of tea, that’s what I believe.” And “There are only three things that need to be accomplished before the devil comes home: one of them is homosexuality being legal in countries, one of them is abortion and the other one’s pedophilia”. In the great scheme of things those comments are no more offensive than usual nonsense that prejudice and ignorance unleashes.

The problem occurs when tax payers money (mine being one) is being used to provide a platform for this fool. BBC Sports Personality of the Year is not just about sporting excellence it’s about the person too i.e. the Personality part. Something which Mr Fury could spend time working on in my opinion. He should’t be on the ballot, his remarks show him to lack the vital assets that make someone a role model for our country. His views on women and homosexuals are backwards but he claims they are only for his woman and his Traveller Culture. Well that may be but not so long ago it was the culture in South Africa to deny the vote and other basic human rights to the black majority. Thankfully South Africa moved forward, there are still some who haven’t but as Darwin put it ‘It is not the strongest of the species that survives, not the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change’. The same applies in this case, he can keep his views and shout them out loud, doesn’t mean that the rest of society has to accept or accommodate them.

The BBC should dump this man in favour of someone more deserving, but either way the man is getting no more of my attention. Moving swiftly on to the moron that is Donald Trump.images All I can say is thank god his family moved to the U.S.A because otherwise we in Scotland might have had to deal with him. That said his recent remarks about a shut down of muslims entering the U.S.A is completely unworkable. Does the man not realise that Islam is a religion and not a race. Not all followers are identifiable on first glance so what is he suggesting- at immigration stations- passport please and declaration of religion. Bizarre in the extreme. The man must have been ignored as child to be so attention seeking now. Calling Mexicans rapists and criminals and women pigs- he’s really wooing the voting public! If he gets the republican nomination they can kiss goodbye to another four years, because he’s offending everyone in the home of the brave and land of the free (except women, mexican’s and muslim’s of course they’re free under certain conditions in his book!)

Also feel I need to point out a couple of parallels between Trump and Hitler; divisive rhetoric, mega dodgy hairstyle and his views on muslims are akin to Hitler’s views on jews. Is this man really the best the Republican Party can offer? Do people actually want to live in a country where he would be President? I’m grateful to live in this country where Trump is not an immediate danger and yet can we imagine a world were he has access to nuclear weapons. Personally I think the American people of all races and creeds are smart and will eventually see past this man and his bluster and see him for the wig-wearing fool he is.

I close with Voltaire he said it best and it remains the cornerstone of humanity today- ‘I disapprove of what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it’! The right to be offended is as important as the right to Free Speech however, the right to not be offended should never even be contemplated!!

2 thoughts on “Right to Free Speech or the Right to be Offended?

  1. It is not the right not to be offended, but the right to “safe space”, where views threatening to my safety, such as, trans women are men really, should be put in controlled academic surroundings for debate, and not brayed from a platform to a cheering crowd threatening to me. I need safe space.

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    1. If I am understanding you correctly then we are in agreement, no person has the right to threaten violence or verbal abuse at someone with regards sexual preference, gender, colour, religious affiliation etc! However the right to not be offended only applies to opinions expressed not the expression of hate! Hate crime is a criminal offence, to express ones opinion irregardless of how offensive it may be found is not! But I do think that questionable remarks should have appropriate responses levelled at them. But to censor remarks in the form of limiting the audience to what they are allowed to hear or see is the curbing of free speech. The ‘safe space’ to which you refer should be society at large and sadly the curbing of free speech would not stop ignorant individuals from invading that said space!

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