Monday, June 1, 2009

Prude the Obscured.

In the past months I had decided to obscure my blog, unsure whether this was to be a temporary or a permanent measure. As to the reasons I’d rather not comment.

Possibly it is slightly more interesting to notice that I have come back, the titanic struggle between paranoia and exhibitionism having turned out to the advantage of the latter. Statistics will show how and if this will be welcomed and to what extent.

Much is being said at the moment about the freedom of opinion and expression. One’s thoughts are of course one’s own, up to the moment when they are shared and made public. Then, if they are noticed at all, they may or may not solicit a reaction and even in some cases set in motion a chain of events that may prove to be either good or bad, possibly even damning. Generally speaking widespread indifference is the key safeguard of our freedom of expression: whatever you may say will probably be largely ignored by its very lack of poignancy, thus go unnoticed and unchecked. Just for the best really, because should it have some point to it, this would probably come over as controversial to some. And nowadays open debate is not always a sheer battle of words and arguments but can turn very nasty and even downright bloody.

Old idealists like George Orwell thought highly of freedom, and went as far as to say that they were ready to give their life fighting for the right of expression, including that of ideas that they didn’t agree with at all. Quite a statement. How many would do so today? I really don’t know, probably wouldn’t myself and suspect that the numbers of those noble spirits are dwindling. It’s not so much ideologies that are deserted, you are just as likely to be beaten up or worse for your ideas as ever by fanatics of all sorts, but tolerance and the capacity to allow for the existence of a different point of view than yours. So caution, intimidation or pragmatism make it expedient to check one’s expression in a form of self-regulation that is tantamount to self-censorship. Even countries that were traditionally known for their libertarian attitude to free speech seem to be pondering on the issue.

Speaker’s Corner, London, is a symbol of western liberties and the right to speak one’s mind in public. Albeit exercised by many a ‘nutter’, mainly to an audience of idle curious or fellow basket cases to no consequence whatsoever, it still stands for something. Quite marginalized it seems really, for why shouldn’t every corner be speaker’s corner? And this is possibly what blogs are to people: a chance to shout, divulge, and share with the world at large from their little corner. Let us give each other if nothing else at least this licence to speak freely. A few basic rules should suffice to weed out the unacceptable and create this playground of thoughts and even jokes. Why take offence? It’s only a blog!

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