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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Intellectual freedom as freedom from criticism or challenge ...

One question: When Brit cleric Michael Reiss, the sinner in the hands of an angry god, got the boot from his Royal Society job for accidental blasphemy against Darwin*, some expressed regret. I wonder how many of those same people would feel anything other than satisfaction at the fate of the Expelled scientists?

Few probably, because, as the Reiss affair demonstrates, it is no longer possible for Darwin's devotees to think about his theory in a rational way. Words uttered against it cannot be entertained in any context; however, one is still permitted to modestly regret the fate of accidental blasphemers like Reiss.

That attitude becomes characteristic, after a while, of people whose viewpoint none dare challenge. Intellectual freedom means, essentially, their freedom from criticism or challenge.

There was an interesting case of that very thing in Toronto recently - unrelated but instructive:

As Toronto broadcaster and columnist Michael Coren recounts, Heather Mallick, a "largely anonymous journalist, a legend in her own lunchtime",
... is now the subject of controversy because she called American Republicans "white trash," said Sarah Palin looked like a porn actress and made repugnant personal comments about the governor of Alaska's family. She did all this on the CBC website, paid for by public dollars. The content of the diatribe is less Oscar Wilde and more Oscar the Grouch, but it's become major news in the United States.

... None of this matters very much; what does matter is that once again the Canadian public is obliged to fund this nonsense. (Toronto Sun, 27th September 2008)
Mallick is, in her own humble way, a counterpart of the Brit toffs. She belongs to the unassailable, tax supported "arts" sector of society, just as they belong to the unassailable, tax supported "science"sector. Neither she nor they are accountable, as are ordinary mortals.

Now Mallick claimed the protection of "freedom of speech," which is quite fair except for one thing. As Coren goes on to tell us,
Beyond the abuse of public money, however, is hypocrisy. Last year I was approached by the editor of a newspaper called The Women's Post and asked if I would write a column for her, providing what publisher Sarah Thomson called "a conservative voice." She explained that she already had plenty of liberal writers but wanted some balance.**

One of those left-wing writers employed by The Women's Post was Mallick. When she heard about me being offered a column she became extraordinarily angry and threatened to resign. The good people at The Women's Post called the enraged journalist's bluff and it was goodbye to our control freak comrade. So when Mallick's defenders cry about unfettered expression and the right to offend they ought to know of whom they speak.
It is interesting to see a basic attitude represented in both arts and sciences. What Brit science needs right now is a Sarah Thomson. Guess they better hurry up with those adult human cloning experiments.

(*accidental blasphemy: Devoted Darwinist Reiss thought teachers should mention creationism and intelligent design expressly in order to indoctrinate students against them, but that means speaking Forbidden Words. It was accidental but it was still blasphemy.
**Ah, thereby a mystery is solved at last! - I had always wondered why Michael Coren, who is very much on the outs with Canada's left-lib media establishment, was allowed to write for Women's Post. Imagine, someone there has guts! )

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