Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Freedom of Speech

In one of the most content-regulated countries on Earth we constantly hear the old refrain about defending freedom of speech. Like this:
defending free speech is, at its core, as content-neutral and apolitical as demanding that people have enough food to eat and potable water to drink—and journalists and other free-speech advocates must recognize this if they are to successfully press for changes in countries like these.
When the U.S. allows child pornography to be published on the front page of a national newspaper, then I will allow that its definition of 'free speech' is somehow fundamentally different from everyone else's.

This isn't such an outlandish example. As a Canadian, I laugh at American television networks' prudishness and wonder why they we never see swearing, nudity and rampant drug use (a la Trailer Park Boys, a runaway Canadian hit) on U.S. TV. Funny, that.

Until then, you're simply arguing about what sort of things you're willing to tolerate in your society. We're pretty comfortable with things like drug use, swearing and nudity on television. But we draw the line at promoting hatred and racism, things that I guess are OK in American media.