Monthly Archives: October 2008

"Supposed" freedom of speech

This in effect is a response to the few comments that were typed or were told to me about my previous post, touching on “supposed” freedom of speech.

A few valid arguments were raised, albeit a few issues overlooked. I was reminded that novelists and script writers twist history for the purpose of entertainment, examples given were Alexander,Troy, Braveheart etc.

There is no proper historic evidence which takes precedence over other evidences in imposing a definite story in any one of the above mentioned instances. Alexander,Troy or any of the other ones have various historians giving their own opinion, and description of what happened. Hence todays writer is at relative liberty to manipulate history to suit his whims and fancies, and thereby use them for the purpose of entertainment.

Where as in the story of Ayesha, there is very well documented evidence of what happened, to the extent that each and every incident or story related about her is held by a chain of narrators, i.e is C tells something about Ayesha saying he heard it from B who heard it from A and so on. If at any point there is a narrator in the chain of narration whose honesty or reliability is at question then that incident is deemed as not completely accurate or authentic. Such is the amount of care that has been taken in documenting her story, therefor it doesn’t give liberty to writers to manipulate facts as and when they want, and to do so is only to disrespect immorally what many a scribe before painstakingly took efforts to preserve.

But that apart, I see a question of ethics intervening in this debate between merely freedom of expression or Absolute freedom of expression.
Nobody has an absolute right to freedom, absolute right to freedom would be like “wandurata deli pihiya dunna wagey”, giving a monkey a razor blade.

A newspaper is not a monastery, its mind blind to the world and deaf to reaction. Every square area of published print reflects the views of its writers and the judgment of its editors. In every single issue or reprint, newspapers decide on the balance of audacity, offence, taste, discretion and ruthlesness. They must decide who is to be allowed a voice and who not. They are curbed by libel laws, common decency and their own sense of what is acceptable to readers. Speech is free only when there is no one to read them, everything els is editing. Try putting an obscene or inflammatory comment on the online version of the daily mirror and see how far you get.

Despite the global populations secularist robust attitude to religion, no publisher in fear of repercussions would accomodate an articulation suggesting obscenity by the Virgin Mary, or lampoon the Holocaust.

Pictures of bodies are not carried if they are likely to be seen by family members. Privacy and dignity are respected, such restraint is more often than not unknown to the readers who just devour what is given to them, but over every page roams a censor honoured by the title of editor.

Islam is an ancient and dignified religion. Like Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism or the like its teaching can be variously interpreted and used for bloodthirsty ends, but in itself Islam has purity and simplicity. Part of that purity lies in its abstraction and part of that abstraction is repugnance to icons.

Sherry Jones must have known that a depiction of Aishah as promiscuous will offend Muslims. It is plain dumb to claim such blasphemy as just a joke concordant with the western way of life. Better claim it as intentionally savage, since that was how it was bound to seem. To adapt Shakespeare, what to a Christian “is but a choleric word”, to a Muslim is flat blasphemy.

I once read somewhere that in Baghdad airport an otherwise respectable Iraqi woman go completely hysterical when an American guard set his sniffer dog, an “unclean” animal, on her copy of the Quran. The soldier swore at her: “Oh for Christ’s sake, shut up!” She was baffled that he cited Christ in defence of what he had done.

Offending an opponent has long been a feature of polemics, just as challenging the boundaries of taste has been a feature of art. It is rightly surrounded by legal and ethical moats. These include the laws of libel and slander and concepts such as fair comment, right of reply and not stirring racial hatred. None of them is absolute. All rely on the exercise of judgment by those in positions of power. All rely on that protective cover of democracy, tolerance of the feelings of others. This was encapsulated by Lord Clark in his defining quality of civilisation: courtesy.

The best defence of free speech can only be to curb its excess and respect its courtesy.

And btw, I was not at all emotionally victimised by the utterances in the book, just felt I should make things more clear since I felt my previous post on the topic may have been ambiguous.

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How does the "Bail-Out" work?

The credit crunch is all around us! so much so that even Kevin Pieterson has asked for it to be respected! i saw it here.

For all those who dont understand, or dont give a tippence worth of what this crunch is about, or dont understand what governments around the world are doing to bail themselves out of this catastrophe, many dont know what is happening. The following email i got sheds a little bit of light…pun intended.

Young Chuck moved to Texas and bought a donkey from a farmer for $100.

The farmer agreed to deliver the donkey the next day. The next day he drove up and said, ‘Sorry son, but I have some bad news, the donkey died.’

Chuck replied, ‘Well, then just give me my money back.’

The farmer said, ‘Can’t do that. I went and spent it already.’

Chuck said, ‘Ok, then, just bring me the dead donkey.’

The farmer asked, ‘What ya gonna do with him ?

Chuck said, ‘I’m going to raffle him off.’

The farmer said, ‘You can’t raffle off a dead donkey!’

Chuck said, ‘Sure I can, watch me! I just won’t tell anybody he’s dead.’

A month later, the farmer met up with Chuck and asked, ‘What happened with that dead donkey?’

Chuck said, ‘I raffled him off. I sold 500 tickets at two dollars a piece and made a profit of $998.’ The farmer said, ‘Didn’t anyone complain?’

Chuck said, ‘Just the guy who won. So I gave him his two dollars back.’

Chuck now works for Goldman Sachs.

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When Islam meets Bridget Jones

The supposed “Freedom of speech” continues.Yet another author has written a book about Aishah the wife of the prophet, I am yet to read the book but from what i gather from the many reviews that have come out it is a pure attempt by the author to depict Aishah as a character similar to the women portrayed in Aladdin,Sinbad or the thousand and one nights.

Many examples cited in the book reflects the naked ignorance of the writer, one of the most prominent being that at some point in the book she refers to Aishah as the favourite of the Prophet amongst all his wives, and it is basic knowledge that Khadijah was the favourite amongst the prophets wives.

The Prophet Muhammad never stopped loving Khadijah, and although he married several more wives in later years and loved them all, it is clear that Khadijah always had a special place in his heart. Indeed whenever ‘Aisha, his third wife, heard the Prophet speak of Khadijah, or saw him sending food to Khadijah’s old friends and relatives, she could not help feeling jealous of her, because of the love that the Prophet still had for her.

Once Aisha asked him if Khadijah had been the only woman worthy of his love. The Prophet replied: “She believed in me when no one else did; she accepted Islam when people rejected me; and she helped and comforted me when there was no one else to lend me a helping hand.”

What surprises me is how modern authors distort history and mix fiction with it so as to contemporarise it to make readers today understand it better, in other words it is an assumption by these authors that modern readers cant think beyond tommorrow and they have to have history served to them in todays plate.

I found a review of this book on the bbc website and an even better review here.


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Architecture,Religion and going Green

As I travel on the verge of being one of the constituents of one of the first generations of architects who will have to immediately tackle issues of climate change and global warming vis a vis Architecture, I began to wonder of little issues in lifestyle that may contribute to human living being more greener in philosophy than the lack of it.

More and more houses or residential buildings are built to cater to an individual, and not a group of people i.e a family or otherwise. Apartments, flats or houses for individuals would mean individual cars, individual microwave ovens,individual refrigerators and the sort of appliances that are needed to accommodate modern human living. This not only incurs an additional material expense but also contributes more towards increasing the carbon footprint.

Hence, to reduce the amount of consumption the simple suggestion would be to share the appliances or materials, thus instead of just one person using a car, there would be several people using it. But given the practical issues that may crop up in several random people sharing appliances/resources the most suitable group living would be to live as families, thus negating or mitigating friction that may erupt as a result of miscommunication.

Whilst my very right wing friends may promptly label me as being conventional or even pseudo leftist (which I am certainly not :)), what many may not realise is that most decision making circles in the west are beginning to think in retrospect and are trying to revert to former ways of human living in order to nullify the negative effects that modern human lifestyles are having on the environment. Except that they will not tend to term it as “former”.

Decision makers and social scientists have come to a cul de sac , which other fundamental way other than changing lifestyle can protect the global environment??. I am not talking in terms of morality or spirituality; I am purely talking in terms of triggering practical home based solutions in tackling global warming. Frank Lloyd Wright, supposedly the greatest Architect of the 20th century says this about morality “There is a great difference between morals and ethics, morals are only those of the moment, the fashion of the day. What is a moral today won’t be a moral day after tomorrow and the day after that.”

If individuals, and the ethics they uphold become more and more akin to upholding religious values will it directly result in human lifestyle becoming more and more green conscious.??

For this to occur, religious institutions too have to be create a dualistic philosophy that not only address purely spiritual issues in a blind manner, but they should also tackle global/secular/environmental and other issues through religion and the values it manifests.

I came across this interesting paradox here.
“Soren Kierkegaard, the Danish philosopher-theologian, once described how he went into the great cathedral in Copenhagen and sat in a cushioned seat and watched as sunlight streamed through stained glass windows. He saw the pastor, dressed in a velvet robe, take his place behind the mahogany pulpit, open a gilded Bible, mark it with a silk marker and read, ‘Jesus said, “If any man be my disciple he must deny himself, sell whatsoever he has, give to the poor and take up his cross and follow me.”‘ Kierkegaard said, ‘As I looked around the room I was amazed that nobody was laughing.’

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The Longest word in the English dictionary ?

This post is a result of an amalgam of wandering thoughts and boredom albeit the amount of assignment work i have to do!

When i was doing English Literature for my OL’s i was told that floccinaucinihilipilification was the longest word in the English Dictionary, bizarre how that word popped into mind just a while ago, and that being a few years after i first heard it.

I have also heard the word Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious , popularized by the English song in the musical Mary Poppins

The former is mentioned in one of the versions of the concise oxford, but the latter isnt.

Any thoughts ?


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