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Re: <nettime> publication of "Jyllands-Posten" cartoons is not...
Florian Cramer on Sat, 18 Feb 2006 22:24:20 +0100 (CET)

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

Am Mittwoch, 15. Februar 2006 um 18:29:00 Uhr (-0500) schrieb Jody Berland:

> 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.   

I am not American. And I live in country that, as a whole, didn't have
something that remotely qualified as free speech before 1989. Even today,
freedom of speech and expression is severely limited over here, with blasphemy
laws, film and video game censorship, an excessive trademark and injunction law
with which any lawyer can bury any web site owner else under ruinous bills
without even going through a court, and a general tendency of jurisdiction to
favor the state's interest over individual free expression. Consider yourself
lucky if you live in a country where this is not the case and where you no
longer have to struggle for those rights. It is have lost the appreciation for
them because you take them for granted. 

Cultural relativism can only go to a certain point and never relativize
fundamental human rights. Those who found such a relativism on deconstruction
theory have utterly and perversely misread Derrida (if they actually read him
at all) who has been very clear and outspoken on these issues, and was an
activist in support of Salman Rushdie.

To consider human rights,including free speech, a purely Western construct
without universal value is subtly racist because it doesn't take people in
other parts for free human beings.  Such extremist multiculturalism would be a
perfect tool, with all theoretical and terminological sophistication of
cultural studies thrown in, to defend slavery, for example.

It is scary that Westerners get impressed by protests that were so obviously
staged and choreographed by dictatorial regimes. Oppositional intellectuals in
those countries - the Iranian blogger scene, for example - all the while
struggle for their own freedom of expression. Now they are let down by those
who allegedly form the very core of an activism for free media and a free net

Maybe multiculturalists should start to attack the Internet as a Western
colonialist tool and defend China's version of it as a heroic struggle of an
ethnic minority against Western universalism and for cultural diversity.



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