I spend a lot of time surfing around the Internet as part of my job. There are a lot of people saying some pretty horrible things about each other, and other people trying to get the noise to stop by forbidding certain things to be said.
My problem is that there are a lot of very different views on the extremes of right and wrong, and as soon as you start censoring one form of speech, another form is right behind. I may not like the conservative bending of the truth and outright lying, or the wacky liberal theories based on a purple haze, but I don't want either of those extremes telling me that I can't say something.
This video showed up on some social media site or another recently. Philip Pullman has a book out entitled The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ, which is apparently shocking to many Christians. Below is the video where he's asked about the title and my quick transcript of his answer.
Yes it is a shocking thing to say and I knew it was a shocking thing to say. But no one has the right to live their life without being shocked. No one has the right to live their life without being offended, nobody has to read this book, nobody has to pick it up, nobody has to open it. And if they open it and read it they don't have to like it and if you read it and don't like it you don't have to remain silent about it. You can write to me, you can complain about it, you can write to the papers, you can write to the publisher you can write your own book.
You can do all these things but there your rights stop. No one has the right to stop the writing of this book. No one has the right to stop it being published or sold or bought or read.
And that's all I have to say on that subject.
I think what's important here is that he makes two points in one -- you don't have to read the book, but you don't have to be quiet about it.
While he's talking about traditional publishing, this resonated with me for a common theme I keep returning to. The Internet gives us the opportunity to learn all sorts of things that were never available to us before. As I keep stressing, we need filters so the things that we can keep from seeing the things we simply don't want to see, but those filters need to be personal filters, not general censorship.