Where do you cross the line?
I have spoken about free speech before. It is at the very heart of blogging. Every blogger, indeed every person in the world who posts an opinion online, takes shelter under its umbrella. In this country you can say what you want, when you want. It is at the centre of the UK's tolerant nature. It is what allows Dr Rant to spout off as he does, Dr Crippen to snipe away at healthcare inadequacies and Dr Grumble to, well, grumble.
So it naturally follows that others will use freedom of speech to their own advantage. Comedians, for example, take all sorts of liberties when they make ethnic, political, and offensive jokes. Take a look at this very short clip of comedian Russell Peters:
Would you consider that offensive?
Some do. In fact some are totally against it. But yet comedians still make jokes like that. It's because of free speech that they can.
Recently I contributed a post to another blog. Readers of this blog will know that I like to poke fun at everything and everyone, very often myself. And I like my fun with Photoshop. But some people were offended. Things turned dramatic. I removed the offending post and made my apologies. I did not mean any disrespect or malice. Some people liked the post and appreciated my sense of humour. Others did not.
I guess free speech has its consequences for all of us. Every blogger who presses the 'Publish' button is risking these consequences every day. Free speech makes some famous, and allows them to express themselves. But for others, its consequences can be not so pleasant, as HospitalPhoenix, Carmelo Alongi and myself have found out.
But that is a risk all of us have to take sometimes. To speak our minds and make our thoughts known. If we had not, human civilisation as we know it today would not exist.
And so it is in the spirit of free speech, knowing that I will not be lawfully reproached, that I pass on Dr Crippen's request for readers to take a look at the petition to sack Patricia Hewitt.