Sunday, April 12, 2015

Beyond Censorship

I published yesterday on DreamCrassier:
According to Lamees Mekkaoui, the student who initialized the movement against the U of MI screening, she "felt uncomfortable during [American Sniper]," when she watched it of her own free will. Instead of giving others the opportunity to educate themselves of the conflicting opinions between the movie and reality, or simply leaving the movie, she felt compelled to "demand censor and closure... [where she did] not necessarily belong."

Sound familiar? It should. Those are the words of Lois Keidan speaking on the matter of Charlie Hebdo, a quote I myself employed back in January.

The problem isn't controversial media. The problem is people feeling they have a right to decide what others can see. I'm not referring to the international stage where a variety of cultures and laws dance; I'm not referring to minors who may not be mature enough to decide for themselves. I'm referring to our own backyards, the US of A, and our educational institutions.

Temporarily derailing the screening of a controversial film is a small step toward losing faith in the First Amendment, not just anywhere, but in a controlled setting intended and designed to teach critical thinking and freedom of thought. You can't do that if you cater to their whims and don't show them something they find offensive once in a while.

I understand the need for peacekeeping measures between the innocent and the offended. I understand that organizing and marketing a successful petition campaign is a wonderful teaching tool in and of itself. But just because something is controversial or offensive, or ninety-nine percent of the student body is against it doesn't mean that left-over slice of the population doesn't have rights of their own to experience the whatever-it-is for themselves and make up their own minds.

In the words of Neil Gaiman (from a post of his I've already quoted once this year), "...the point of view of the people who were banning these works or stopping people reading them... [t]hey thought they were doing a good thing. They thought they were defending other people from something they needed to be protected from."

I know you (Ms Mekkaoui and everybody else like her) probably only have the best intentions in mind. The least you could do is make sure everybody you're trying to protect wants and needs your protection.

The road to hell must be paved with grains of sand because there are so many good intentions, but it's a really short trip.