Thursday, 10 December 2015

Trump, Fury and Banning Things

We've had two newsworthy comments in the past few days, one from Tyson Fury, the new Heavyweight Boxing Champion, who made some apparently sexist and misogynistic comments about women, and Donald Trump, the leading in the race to become the US Republican Party's Presidential Candidate, who stated that all Muslims should be banned from coming to the US, at least temporarily.

Not unsurprisingly, these comments have caused a fair bit of angst and noise. They appear to be utterly ludicrous. But what also strikes me as utterly ludicrous is the proposition that they should be disqualified from competing or even barred from entering the UK on the basis of these comments.

I'm sorry, what?

I know precisely what you're thinking: he's banging on about free speech again. And you're right. I am. Because it's really, really, really fucking important. Tyson Fury and Donald Trump should be free to say whatever ridiculous things pop into their minds, as should everybody else, short of defamation or incitement. And the reason why is simple: if speech and expression are not free, then they require policing. In which case, who is it that gets to decide what is or is not acceptable?

Whoever would be charged with such a duty would wield tremendous power - the power to control language, which shapes ideas, underpins culture, politics, our institutions, our very society. A person or organisation who held such power, in effect, controls thought and behaviour. And I personally think that's too much power for anyone to hold.

This is yet another sinister manifestation of authoritarianism from the Perpetually Offended, who seem to think they have a God-given right to go through life without ever experiencing any level of unpleasantness or discomfort. Newsflash, fucksticks: you don't. Nobody does. The vast majority of your discomfort caused by things people say isn't caused by offence - it's caused by cognitive dissonance, that horrible nagging feeling that you might be wrong. It is phenomenally important that your ideas (and mine) are constantly challenged, because they might actually be wrong. Less so in my case, obviously, because I'm not a screwloose Leftard.

It is quite bleeding obvious that Donald Trump and Tyson Fury are talking utter bollocks. The correct way to deal with their arguments is not to demand their censorship, but to confront those arguments and highlight how utterly preposterous they are.

And before you bang on about how these opinions, utterly bonkers though they are, constitute incitement, don't be fucking stupid. Donald Trump has not said that all Muslims should be murdered, has he? Tyson Fury has not suggested that women deserve a good rape. THAT would be incitement - actively encouraging others to go out and commit violence against others. So they are in no way morally equivalent to hate preachers who suggest that homosexuals, apostates, non-believers and women who complain to the police about forced or under-age marriage should be murdered.

They're not evil, just phenomenally dumb.