Sunday, 25 October 2015

From Lego to Charlie Hebdo

Ai Weiwei wants to build a free speech artwork from Lego bricks.

Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei has been inundated with Lego brick donation offers after the Danish toy maker refused a request for a bulk order of the plastic toys on political grounds.

Lots to chew over. Are we so ignorant about free speech that we need another artwork to bring home the message? Whatever one thinks of Ai Weiwei, we probably do need his artwork if only to keep the issue alive.

Meanwhile Brendan O’Neill is more direct, he uses free speech to promote free speech. His piece in spiked is worth reading. Doesn’t say anything radical but reaffirms what too few of the chattering classes appear to understand – free speech is essential, without it we are doomed.

Free speech in Europe is under assault from within, by the very people you might expect to defend it: academics and liberals now more concerned with controlling the expression of hate than with guaranteeing freedom of thought. Charlie Hebdo cannot, and shouldn’t be expected to, hold back this tide of illiberalism.

Well said but unfortunately there is another problem. The problem is free speech which is untrue, misleading, biased, emotionally manipulative or whatever. Presumably people should be free to lie because otherwise we wouldn’t have free speech.

So they do.

So we end up in a situation where politically or commercially useful lies are so well funded that facts, evidence, uncertainties and contrary points of view are drowned at birth and their proponents abused or ignored. Lego won't cure that.


Demetrius said...

Burning at the stake used to be quite effective.

A K Haart said...

Demetrius - but is it carbon neutral?