"It is the freedom to blaspheme, to transgress,
to move beyond the pale, that is at the heart
of all intellectual, artistic and political endeavor.
Far from censoring offensive speech,
a vibrant and diverse society should encourage it.
In any society that is not uniform, grey and homogeneous,
there are bound to be clashes of viewpoints."
“Protect the Freedom to Shock”, The New Statesman, 13 August 2001
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Reader comments about this quote:
self-evident one would hope
 -- don dalgleish, london, uk     
    If only we could get to that point...
     -- Robert, Sarasota     
     -- Anonymous, Reston, VA US      
    And the greater the attempt to instill uniformity is, the greater will be the resistance.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
    I don't believe that offensive speech needs be encouraged BUT, the liberty that allows it does! There is opposition in all things. One does not have to physically experience the evil to know the good BUT, it needs be available for the advancement of man's endeavors.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
    And what is the good of rebellion, when it is carried on simply for its own sake, to the detriment of what is good and useful, against what is right and just? Rebellion for its own sake is perversion. And rebelling as to upset what is right is nothing less than criminal. Freedom is not a license to do anything at all at any time. Blaspheming and going beyond the pale are not synonymous. We are free to do so many good things; why abuse freedom to do what is bad, just because we can? It is senseless, sado-masochistic, and perverse. A vibrant society should censure those who wish to cause strife for no reason.
     -- David L Rosenthal     
    I have to feel ambivalent about the extremes of freedom of expression, its repression and its indulgence. In this country our feeling that we can say anything we want is a deceptive freedom. People can talk their heads off to try to change the insanity of our current political situation and then be categorically dismissed as confused (ie. Colin Powell regarding the the Geneva Conventions) or labeled as giving comfort to the enemy (wanting to do the right thing for our troops - bring them home.) In politcally repressive systems, when exercising freedom of speech actually requires true courage, its efffects can be that much more potent.
     -- EGL, LA     
    I agree with you Mr. Rosenthal. However, I would also add that it is dangerous to give government the power to censure the speech which offends. It should, as you say, be left to the to the society (of individuals) to reject the speech. Don't buy the book, don't buy the music, don't watch the movie, don't give an audience to anything whose only aim is to harm society. Of course for that to work society has to take responsibility to protect itself.
     -- Ken, Allyn, WA     
    What perverse things do you do Rosenthal? I suspect you say you are a democrat, but are in reality a socialist, perhaps communist, probably living in Kalifornia, or is it Mexifornia? Your world would be uniform, grey and homogeneous. Please stay in Kalifornia and away from me.
     -- Joe, Rochester, MI     
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