Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Only Minorities can Offend - minister

The culture minister David Lammy is to give a speech tonight. The Guardian reports that in it he will defend the BBC for providing a forum for the radical Islamist Abu Izzadeen. Parts of his speech have been leaked or released to the press, in it he says:

People ask, is it right for the BBC or al-Jazeera to interview groups who spread mistrust and division through a twisted reading of Islam? To give them what used to be called the oxygen of publicity? The answer is 'yes, it is'.

Freedom of expression means showing up the extremists for what they are. They usually don't speak for anyone other than themselves, and their poisonous voices are best silenced by rational and reasoned argument.
What about the cartoons? Ah, well that's different:
Publishing cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed was no shining defence of free speech. It ignored how power works. The majority can shout louder than the minority, and printing the images was deliberately designed to cause offence.
Even though the cartoons were apprently meant to cause offence the BBC "acted with intelligence and sensitivity" by not giving anyone the opportunity for the same "rational and reasoned argument" that would silence the cartoonists. The reason being that only minorities are allowed to cause offence.