Saturday, January 27, 2007

In The Spirit Of Free Speech

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.

Donald Trump wants to fire Patsy

Free speech. It's your right to use it. Just don't step on the wrong toes.


Dan said...

"Free speech. It's your right to use it. Just don't step on the wrong toes."

then it isn't really free, now is it?

i know what you're talking about.

but at the end of the day, who cares? you were doing the thing a service, and also you may have increased the number of hits and therefore the publicity of the event. hell, isn't that what your job was about in the first place?

just forget it. no loss to you, and it's a major loss to them. too bad if they get low audience turnout this year. it isn't your problem.

Anonymous said...

Free speech huh?

Try google-ing Jeff Ooi. But then it is Malaysia.

And Russell Peters wasn't 'authorised' to perform here as well.

the little medic said...

Free Speech is a mythical ideal. Although all of us would like to think we have a right to free speech, we don't. If you upset someone who has power then ultimately you should expect consequences.

I'd like to think I am allowed to say whatever I want on my blog but I still often feel uncomfortable about posting some things. I can see a situation in the future where I have to remove it all but for the time being fuck them all!

the little medic said...

2 Britmed mentions, aren't we popular? :D well done.

On the topic of Britmeds, does Dr Crippen keep crashing anyone else's computer or is it just mine?

Mary said...

With the right to free speech comes the responsibility to accept the consequences.

If you insult/disparage/mock/bully (whoever), then even if you think it's funny, and it's entertaining a lot of other people, (whoever) may get upset by it.

You have the right to make funny comments, but (whoever) also has the right to say that they find it offensive rather than funny, and indeed to ask you (politely) to stop it because it's really upsetting them.

It's a bit off for anyone to then say that they don't think (whoever) should have been allowed to say that they were getting upset by the funny comments, because it's spoiled all the fun...

I should add that I have no idea which blog, let alone which post, you are referring to, so I may have gone off on a completely irrelevant tangent.

The Island Med Student said...

Unfortunately, I did not have the opportunity to read the entry that drew such criticism. I do understand your pain, and I think it's sad that you had to remove it. It seems that here in America, free speech is legally allowed in many senses, whilst it's the people who are so againt it. As you might have guessed, I am one of those annoying peoples who happens to believe in free speech above all else. But I've also stopped myself from writing certain things, because I know that I might get kicked in the ass for it. It's days like that, when I consider starting a separate, anonymous blog. I would much rather live in a world, where everyone could speak their mind at any time, even if it offends the hell out of me, than one where we must keep quiet for fear of persecution. I say, write on Mr. Angry Medic.

The Angry Medic said...

Dan: Thanks, man. I needed that. I realise now how lucky I am to have found friends like you and the gang on Facebook who take all my crappy jokes with a smile :P

Little Medic: Hey thanks! I had no idea of the BritMed mentions until you told me. Dr Crippen must have seen me down and decided to give me some good news (for once) by linking here, bless his soul.

And nope, his blog seems very palatable to my browser. Maybe you just loaded his page at peak time?

The Angry Medic said...

Mary: No, Mary, you are spot on. I agree with you completely. For my part, I contacted the people involved in the blog post to ask if they found it offensive, and they said no, it gave them all a laugh. The complaint came from someone who was afraid he might be linked to the post.

He was well within his rights though, and so I did remove the post and issue an apology. I was just inspired by the whole affair to write this post.

Island Med Student: Aww, thanks dear. You're a true idealist, the kind that the world needs more of. I know what you mean. Despite disclaimers and free speech laws, your non-anonymity still restricts you.

I don't know about a world in which people are able to say WHATEVER they want, because then all sorts of ugly violence could occur. But I do respect people's rights to air their views in a peaceful manner. I know you do too, and I appreciate you and people like you all the more for it.

Chrysalis Angel said...

Don't worry Angry Medic. You're loved. I've had my head bitten off too. I just left and never went back.

Faith said...

In my old job- we weren't even allowed to THINK, let alone speak freely!

I've been learning a valuable lesson about opening my mouth when i should, partly related to my blog- you never know who is reading.

Nice Blog- (im a geek, been reading for a while!).

Calavera said...

I'm getting more and more curious as to what exactly was written. I don't suppose I'll find it now that you've removed it.

I guess even freedom of speech has its limits. It's because of this that we refrain from writing certain things in our own blogs, even though we're completely, well - free - to write them.

Well done for the Brit Meds mention! You got a link to your quotes page as well! :D

And whatever that little incident was - don't let it deter you from your brilliant blogging! I look forward to your entries!

Bohemian Road Nurse... said...

You are so right---and I will confess that I do find myself taking care in what I say on the blog, because of "controversial" issues.

zewt said...

Indeed, very interesting blogsite you have. Shall drop by often.

And I really need to learn how to use photoshop, will certainly make blogging much more interesting.

Russel Peters... ppl pay him to get insulted... he is da man !

Dan said...


usually i would make a racist joke about you right about now, but hell.


i am so happy for you. maybe now you can finally grow up to be a real singh with a turban and a big beard. and an even bigger something else. but that's none of my business. :P

the little medic said...

Apparently its your birthday, so Happy Birthday, and thanks for your help!

Calavera said...

Hey, if it's your birthday, then Happy Birthday, Angry! :D

Yes, I will stop calling you Angry soon...

The Angry Medic said...

Chrysalis Angel: You are, as usual, an angel. Thanks so much. I really appreciated that.

Faith: Agreed. You're free to write whatever you want, and yet not so free. It's a funny world :P

I liked your article! I might link to it in a post (along with some Photoshopping gave me SO much to work with, what with those Hitler references!)

Calavera: I've got the original blog post saved as a draft, if only because I spent so long on it. It was nothing really, just a bit of Photoshop fun with a lot of my friend's pics :P

Right back atcha...don't et your free speech qualms keep you from your prolific blogging.

Bohemian Road Nurse: Yep, it's the same everywhere. Though I find it hard to believe that someone like YOU could be cowed by controversy... :P

Zewt: Whoa! So you finally dropped by. It's an honour :)

And hey, Photoshop DOES make blogging a lot more fun! Your blog is already interesting, but add Photoshop...I might become an addict.

The Angry Medic said...

Dan: Oh dangit. You HAD to let the cat out of the bag didn't you?

Thanks, you multicoloured maniac cat. It's been a great year, and this promises to be a challenging one up ahead. Cook that lamb tonight!

Little Medic: Aw thanks! Wasn't planning on anyone finding out, but the wishes are only more appreciated now. So you got my email? Sorry it took so long!

Calavera: It is indeed my birthday :P thanks! Like I said to Little Medic, the wishes are more appreciated now. And hey, you can call me Angry all you like, Cally :)

Patient Anonymous said...

Well, my blog is (as I commented ironically on someone else's blog just yesterday) loony free speech central. I've written things and posted things that, after the fact, I've kind of wondered...hmmm, was that a bit over the line? Whether it's been some attempt at humour or whether it's been details of my life or who knows.

I've also made comments on other peoples' blogs and then thought, 'Oh my! Was that inappropriate?' So far, everyone has been quite forgiving and no one has deleted me from their blogrolls or flamed me.

I guess I'll just keep doing what I'm doing? I do often wonder whether or not I am perceived as offensive. But really, I suppose if you don't like it, you don't have to read it. You can simply close your browser?

And yes, Happy Birthday!

Dan said...

well, you can't really close your browser if there's something else on it that you really want to read. heheh..

yes, singh. now the world knows your birthday is on 29th january. hoorah.

The Angry Medic said...

Patient Anonymous: I completely agree. We can't be too sensitive; in fact if we all didn't take ourselves so seriously and just chilled, we'd suddenly realise we've just achieved world peace.

Like Island Med Student up there told me, I say to you; write on!

Dr Placebo said...

Free speech isn't always such a great concept really is it.... You spend more time defending the original concept than extending the thoughts around it!

Chrysalis Angel said...

Happy Birthday Angry Medic! Sorry I wasn't on time with the birthday wishes. :)

The Angry Medic said...

Dr Placebo: Hahahahaha...that's hitting the nail right on the head. It's weird isn't it? Like a big pile of gold that you have to keep pirates and marauders from rather than spend yourself.

I like your blog btw! You've been blogrolled.

Chrysalis Angel: Aww thanks! And hey, no probs. You weren't even supposed to know :P

Lorie said...

Well said.