My partner and I like to watch movies, but during the week, don’t often have time to settle into a complete movie. I like to immerse myself in the story entirely, feeling every emotion like an empath. So instead, we watch episodes from a specific TV series from start to finish. We’re currently watching Babylon 5. For those unfamiliar with the series, Babylon 5 is an outpost in space designed as a diplomatic station with the aim of keeping peace between alien species. It fails miserably and by series three, with a little help from the Shadows, the Centauri have enslaved the Narn, and the Great War looms.
During the episode last night, a political advisor was sent from Earth to the space station. She reported there was no unemployment, crime, poverty, homelessness…. Earth was a perfect world. It emerged that the reason for this was ideological tyranny. Those problems hadn’t been solved, they’d simply been renamed. The advisor’s presence was to ensure that Babylon 5 followed the party line too.
My kind of nightmare! The loss of freedom of thought, speech, initiative, action …. the notion made me shudder – because it’s not so far from the truth.
In “A Ray of Sunshine”, I quoted Voltaire, that a person should be judged by their questions and not their answers and so posed a series of questions. The first being – what would you ask?
Voltaire is attributed with having said (largely due to S.G. Tellentyre’s recounting of Voltaire’s defence of a book, but the contents of which he disagreed with):
“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”
The philosopher J.S. Mill also believed in freedom of speech. He was an advocate of political criticism as he saw it as vital for a healthy society. Without dissent, disapproval, alternative positions, society would not progress and truths would be hidden by dogma and never known.
But I do have a question.
Is there a limit to freedom of speech?
What about those whose ideas, speech and actions serve to oppress others? Is it right to censure, or would it be better to allow their views to be fully open to the questioning of others?
What are your thoughts?