Tim Blair


New Criterion



Friday, October 01, 2004
Supporting the case for tolerating free expression of ideas and information is easy to do. Miranda Devine does it well in the Henny Herald.

The harder task is to construct a case to justify pulling back from the consequences of tolerance. Two cases are in front of us now.

Devine attacks censoring children's fiction. The "narks" who are holding back The Bad Book are left with their gut reaction for guidance, because liberal philosophising has nothing but criticism to offer.

Would Devine and other liberals push their their philosophy far enough to tolerate a sensitive, fictionalised account of pederasty aimed at child readers? As the latest arrests show, there are plenty of educated, talented people out there who could write such an account. And it's all part of the real world with which, according to purist liberal philosophy, a child just cannot be too closely acquainted.

The second case is opened by the decision of our media to make the propaganda videos of the throat-cutters available on prime-time news. This takes the issue beyond what is good for children, since the consequences are felt by all of us.

If it's good for kids to know just how bad the world can be, why do we censor the climax of the killers' little dramas, where the heads get hacked off?

If we must show the pathetic pleas for help from kidnap victims, to strengthen their and their familes' case for consideration from their own governments, what happens to the interests of future kidnap victims when governments choose the Italian/Spanish/Philippino solution?

Are the threats of Nigeria's rebels to Nigeria's oil industry unrelated to the enormous propaganda victories you can achieve with nothing more than a kitchen knife and a cheap video camera?

It ain't easy being a publisher or editor. We should make it a damn sight harder, because it's in all our interests.

Later: Nick Robinson won't even watch the terrorists' antics on the web:
I won’t. It is what they want me to do. It is down to each of us to find our own way of not giving the hostage takers what they want.
via Biased BBC.