I haven’t seen the movie “The lady of sky” about Fatima, the daughter of the Prophet Mohammed, but there are many signs that it is bad. The New York Times wrote of the film, “An ugly script and a tiresome reliance on clichés.”
But people don’t have to stop at that. Stopping it now: can’t they have better arguments?
The film has been completely banned Less surprising are Iran, Pakistan, Egypt and Morocco. But what happened UK? Protests, that’s what happened. In Bolton, Blackburn, Bradford, Sheffield and Birmingham, Muslim activists called for the screening to be stopped. Among other things, they noted that the film was defamatory and, above all, it incited conflict. Shia and Sunni Muslims. In the end, cinema chain Cineworld withdrew the film to “guarantee the safety of our staff and audiences”.
In Bradford paper Telegraph & Argus I read how some of the opponents reasoned. And then a thought occurs to me: Don’t you have better arguments?
“That’s not right 1.8 billion to exceed,” says a sign. Hmm… why not? So, where is the line? What if 1.8 billion is wrong?
“We are deeply offended,” says a cinema spokesperson. Yes, it’s a feeling that happens sometimes and you have to learn to deal with it when you live close to others. “We have a right not to offend,” he continues. But no man has such a right. What would it look like?
“You talk about freedom of speech. But what about your right to criticize politics and history? Great, thanks for asking. If the speaker wanted to make a counter-film with his own interpretation of the prophet’s daughter, not even a British judge would have struck him.
So I think: “This man should read ‘Nothing is Secret’ by Sakine Maddon”.
We humans are far from perfect. We generally support free speech – but… exceptions, exceptions!
Out this spring, the book, dedicated to Lars Wilks, argues directly and academically for freedom of expression, the merits of argument over censorship laws, liberal anti-racism — and the right to blaspheme. Madden writes that “if rules and laws had been established with the starting point that nothing could be offensive, there would have been severe restrictions on questioning Christianity and criticizing the king in Sweden.”
Instead, it was enlightening And as modernity spread, we pretty much agreed that neither religion nor those in power were beyond criticism—rather, society thrived on questioning and debate. It was worse when the fool who pointed out reprehensible and ridiculous things to those in authority was thrown into prison.
Democracy requires free exchange of information. Freedom of expression was then almost a prerequisite.
But we humans are far from perfect. We are generally in favor of freedom of expression – but… exceptions, exceptions! Gangster rap needs to stop because it encourages crime. Nudity is suspiciously often bordered by gender. Racist expressions are only favored by racists – surely we can stop that and draw proper boundaries? My religion is particularly sacred and therefore deserves particularly strong protection – only if it is particularly sinful to my particular group.
“Leave the arguments and let the best win” actually means a safe minority protection.
Sachin Madden reminds the reader of liberal John Stuart Mill’s famous principle of harm. It is one thing to write in a newspaper that a greedy corn merchant is causing famine. But shouting it to an angry mob outside a dealer’s house is another. It is even more difficult to find a good policy for when freedom of speech should be limited.
(Incidentally, with that reasoning, if you had to choose, it would be more reasonable to silence protesters outside the cinema than “the lady of sky” filmmaker. Why silence anyone immediately.)
It is often called freedom of expression If particularly vulnerable groups are affected, what is said to be “falling downwards” should be defined. But the basic rule “let the arguments and let the best prevail” actually refers to a safe minority protection.
The weak cannot win a fight and can always be crushed by the rods of power. In a free discussion, everyone has a chance.
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