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Re: <nettime> publication of "Jyllands-Posten" cartoons is not...
Jody Berland on Thu, 16 Feb 2006 09:13:01 +0100 (CET)


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Re: <nettime> publication of "Jyllands-Posten" cartoons is not...


It seems to me that in the midst of this intelligent conversation, the 
elephant sitting in the room is being missed.  Freedom of speech amounts to 
a kind of religion in American culture.   It is only useful to term it a 
religion if you acknowledge that it is a civilizational ideal and political 
common sense for American culture the same way other kinds of beliefs are 
for other cultures.  Thus the "cultural sensitivity" referred to (more or 
less negatively) by free speech advocates in this discussion is equally true 
of the upholders of free speech, for whom the concept of free speech holds 
sacred status.  My point is not only that different cultures think 
differently about fundamental social issues, but that these social entities 
have power in disparate degrees.  If the free speech advocates were 
acknowledging that theirs is a specific political ideology maintained by 
U.S. politicians, corporates, bureaucrats, hackers, civil liberties 
advocates and others, ie. specific to the historical formation of the 
American subject, it would be easier to find a way to discuss these issues 
with others with different political formations.   It's not that I think an 
ideal dialogue of rational understanding is always or necessarily possible, 
but this lack of geopolitical reflexivity on the part of people saying free 
speech is always, necessarily and absolutely a higher value than all other 
values, is giving me a pain.  Let's have some global self-awareness here.

Jody Berland


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