Thursday, February 22, 2007


Should not be taken for granted.

this year, Freedom to Read Week runs from February 25-March 3.

Freedom to Read Week is an annual event that encourages Canadians to think about and reaffirm their commitment to intellectual freedom, which is guaranteed them under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

"Even in Canada, a free country by world standards, books and magazines are banned at the border, books are removed from the shelves in Canadian libraries, schools and bookstores every day, and free speech on the Internet is under attack. few of these stories make headlines, but they affect the right of Canadians to decide for themselves what they choose to read."

what does this mean? how does it affect you?


Blogger Liz said...

...Makes me think of when Noam Chomsky came under such criticism for defending that dude who wrote the book claiming the holocaust didn't happen from being censored. The dude is obviously crazy, but Chomsky defends his right to freedom of speech and to continue teaching.

An excerpt from a Chomsky article:
"I have taken far more controversial stands than this in support of civil liberties and academic freedom. At the height of the Vietnam War, I publicly took the stand that people I regard as authentic war criminals should not be denied the right to teach on political or ideological grounds, and I have always taken the same stand with regard to scientists who "prove" that blacks are genetically inferior, in a country where their history is hardly pleasant, and where such views will be used by racists and neo-Nazis. Whatever one thinks of Faurisson, no one has accused him of being the architect of major war crimes or claiming that Jews are genetically inferior (though it is irrelevant to the civil-liberties issue, he writes of the "heroic insurrection of the Warsaw ghetto" and praises those who "fought courageously against Nazism" in "the right cause"). I even wrote in 1969 that it would be wrong to bar counterinsurgency research in the universities, though it was being used to murder and destroy, a position that I am not sure I could defend. What is interesting is that these far more controversial stands never aroused a peep of protest, which shows that the refusal to accept the right of free expression without retaliation, and the horror when others defend this right, is rather selective."

I can see Chomsky's point - but the issue gets a lot fuzzier for me when you start talking about these views being purported by people in positions of authority. In the article, he also mentions how most of the major institutions in the USA believe that the atrocity of the vietnam war was not a crime, but simply an "intellectual error". He calls this widespread acceptance of "revisionism" much more dangerous than the holocaust one....but isn't that true, and the risk of allowing unsupported/revisionist claims to be taught in school, etc. ? I'm not sure where I stand, since the other extreme is homogeneous fascism. What does everyone think?


7:41 PM  
Blogger Liz said...

ps. sorry for the crazy long post :)

7:42 PM  
Blogger Caleb said...


you make a good point in your post liz.

However, the limits often put on freedom of speech are ones the restrain people from speech that is openly hateful, or speech that is directed at keeping down a minority group.

Ideas should be open to study and debate. But perhaps the old adage "if you dont have anything nice to say, dont say anything at all." should trump freedom of speech sometimes.

7:47 AM  
Blogger laura said...

just so you know, i haven't been ignoring these comments - and greatly appreciate them - but have wanted to spend some time thinking and talking about them a bit first.

not that my vision is any cleaer in regeards to freedom of speech, but perhaps i can make a comment here.

i'm unsure about your point caleb - altough i do see the truth in it i wonder if more often it's the people who are in minority that are kept from speaking (for their rights, to express themselves, to comment on their position)...

and liz, i'm not sure where i stand either as i can see points on each side - that i resist and also relate to. if anything i have more questions:

who makes decisions of censorship? and would tackling this issue help with handling freedom of speech?

also, it seems freedom of speech is so large an issue with many fears attached to it - which makes me wonder - what are some of the underlying issues...can't we trust each other to be careful with our words (to realize the power they have and choose them carefully - for example, thinking outside ourselves when we speak) as well as being able to hear what others are saying and recoginizing the power of thier words as well...i guess maybe i'm getting at the idea that focusing more on speech itself may help us to understand/handle (i can't find the right word) the issue of freedom of speech.

this is still cloudy, any thoughts?

1:44 PM  
Blogger Liz said...

Hey Laura, this issue came up in a discussion last night at the climbing gym. It was interesting to see how people think on where, or if, to draw the line on freedom of speech. We all found it challenging to find a clear line of distinction between right/wrong that would hold across the board. I will keep pondering it I suppose, and see where my thoughts end up.

8:25 AM  
Blogger laura said...


yes - it does keep coming up, doesn't it.

i don't have much else to say, but i am enjoying watching this issue.


2:35 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home