Ponderance

(May 2003 - March 2007.) Tama's thoughts on the blogosphere, podcasting, popular culture, digital media and citizen journalism posted from a laptop computer somewhere in Perth's isolated, miniature, urban jungle ...

Thursday, July 10, 2003
Mixed Feelings about Freedom of Speech
(or: Mr Irving, You're a GREAT BIG PRAT)

The banning of Ken Park has had film censorship in the spotlight as you can see in the media and the fact that I've already written about it three times in the last month. However, is freedom of speech or freedom of artistic expression an absolute? While there are many things I wouldn't really want to see, I still really want to be able to choose not to see them. In terms of censorship, the only things I really believe no one should ever see in Australia are pornography involving children and snuff movies. However, as soon as I'd thought my stance on censorship was concrete, along comes something to make me do a doubletake: the Melbourne Underground Film Festival is screening David Irving's controversial Holocaust denial documentary. Irving, in case you've never heard of him, is a Holocaust denialist; he says it didn't happen the way we all think it happened and not all that many Jewish people really died. Not to put to fine a point on it, he's a real f**kwit. However, do I think his documentary should be banned? Before I answer that, The Herald Sun reports that filmmaker Ray Greene has withdrawn his film Shlock! A History Of American Movies from the Underground Festival since it would be screening alongside Irving's documentary. Greene states:
"I only just got the release about how proud organisers were that they were allowed to show the Irving film in the name of free speech," Greene said from his Los Angeles home. ... I was extremely angry. I don't agree with censorship, but the festival is giving freedom of speech to a man whose ideas are no more credible than someone who says the earth is flat."
I have to confess I'm completely sympathetic to Greene's position. If I'd put all my hard work into a film, I certainly wouldn't want it see anywhere near Irving's moronic rants. But, and this is the difficult part, do I think Irving's doco should be banned? MUFF certainly doesn't think it should be, and in a press release says their screening of it is an act of free speech. And, after all is said and done, I guess I have to agree. Greene pointed out that Irving's stuff is as silly as saying the Earth is flat. But people did once say that, and only by talking about it and seeing the round-world position discussed did things change. So, my position is, (a) I think Irving is a prat, (b) I'd never pay money to see him talk or see his work, and (c) if people want to do so that's their choice but (d) I really think most Australians are smart enough to see through Irving's lies and crap so if they do watch it, they won't suddenly believe that the Earth is flat; rather they'll see Irving's work for the load of shite that it is.

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