Thursday, 1 March 2012

Attempt to not editorialise of the day

Usually, when I put things up here, it is because I have very strong views about them. But sometimes there are things which are so difficult and complicated and combustible that they don't really need me pontificating. You will know what conclusions you wish to draw. I just want to bring the thing itself to your attention.

Today's story I think is interesting for about eight different reasons. Jenny Tongue, the Liberal Democrat peer, has said some things about Israel. She has form on intemperate and unfortunate and odd remarks.

As always, there is the bashing up of free speech against the yelling of fire in a crowded theatre. How much should politicians be punished for speaking their true mind? Is it just cheap grandstanding for leaders to dismiss members of their party who say the wrong thing?

And yet, the free speech defence can go too far. Humans self-censor all the time, usually from politeness. I wonder, quite apart from anything else, whether this is just an example of really, really bad manners.

Also: I am interested in the role of context. It is context and history, I think, which make some remarks much more inflammatory than others.

Generally, though, I tend to agree with the Chief Rabbi. He is such a thoughtful and moderate man. If he thinks something is beyond the pale, I am inclined to think it is so.

Read it here, and see what you think.

Soothing picture of a Nubian Ilex in the Negev Desert:


Oh dear. After all that, I did seem to pontificate a bit. The more I think of this, the more I think the oddity and wrongness of Tongue's statements were to do with a conflation of two different things. Surely it is possible to question the policies of a government, as people do with many different countries, without questioning whether the state itself should or will exist in the future. It is that, with its horrible echoes of past and current prejudices and hatreds, which strikes one as extreme and sinister.






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