Nasty speech in the Netherlands, bitter truths in South Africa, and goofy government speech in Denmark

After Joe Wilson’s “you lie!”, after Kanye West at the MTV awards, after Serena Williams’ outburst at the US Open, you may think:  enough already with nasty speech! Well, you ain’t heard nothin’ yet. This week, a report on a series of Dutch cartoon that are offensive – really offensive. Deliberately so, according to the Dutch-based Arab group behind them. The group claims that Dutch law exercises a double standard when it comes to speech and religion: while it often censors anti-semitic speech – like the cartoons in question – it tolerates anti-Muslim speech.

Then, gadfly-journalist Max du Preez.

vrye weekblad

Du Preez has been upsetting his fellow South Africans for decades – first, he upset his father by becoming a communist, then he upset the apartheid regime with his muckracking journalism. He edited Vrye Weekblad the only Afrikaans-language paper that exposed the murders, beatings and corruption of the racist government.  That upset almost an entire people: du Preez’s people,  South Africa’s Afrikaners. Only after the end of apartheid, when morality ceased to be a moveable feast, did du Preez’s father speak to him again.

These days, du Preez has new enemies: the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which fired him; former president Thabo Mbeki who du Preez called a womanizer; and agricultural giant Monsanto, which du Preez says is ruining rural  South Africa by spreading genetically modified crops.

Finally, government free speech. This doesn’t come up much. Governments oversee free speech laws; they rarely get caught up in their own free speech shenanigans. Not the Danish government. Not Denmark’s  tourist bureau. For its latest edgy advertizing campaign the bureau staged a faux one night stand between a young blonde Danish woman and a foreign man with apparently no name, and no nationality. Johnny Foreigner, as it were.  Here’s the ad:

This was supposed to be a come-on to foreign visitors; instead it had Danish politicians trying to curb the speech of their own government.

Listen in iTunes or here.

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2 responses to “Nasty speech in the Netherlands, bitter truths in South Africa, and goofy government speech in Denmark

  1. Jennifer Shim (CST229-02; Professor Tirpak)

    It seems really hard to draw a line between what is “politically correct” and not. Multiple debates about the free speech have always been very controversial. According to the pod cast, you can insult symbols of people, even their gods, but not the people themselves under the Dutch law. But, what is the difference in those? Their symbols and gods represent the people themselves, and I think it is not right to offensively depict any of their cultural entities. There are free speech laws, but what comes out of people’s mouth should be filtered to meet certain ethical and moral standards.

  2. Mike Chacon

    This podcast was very interesting. It talked about the right of free speech that citizens have. Granted, we have as citizens have the right to say whatever we choose to as our right to free speech is protected by the first Amendment in our Constitution, but sometimes, our right of free speech gets out of hand. The podcast used the examples of Joe Wilson saying “You Lie!” during one of President Obama’s speeches and Kanye West’s’ outburst at the MTV Video Music Awards. Sure, they were using their right of free speech, but in both occurrences, Kanye West and Joe Wilson went over the line in regards to their comments (Wilson is regards to what President Obama said at a convention, and West in regards to the video (Taylor Swifts “You Belong To Me”) that won “Best Female Video” at the Music Television Video Music Awards. Free speech is great, but when one uses it out of blatant reaction like Wilson and West did, it brings into question as to whether citizens should be able to say what they want in the first place. We have to understand that free speech is indeed a right that all United States citizens have. The right to freedom of religion, assembly, press, petition, and last but not least, the right to freedom of speech was set forth by the 1st Amendment in the Bill of Rights, which was later set forth by the United States Constitution. Free speech is indeed a right. We determine what is acceptable, or out of context based upon what we would say in a certain situation. For example, if a student were to get into a dispute with a professor over a certain grade they receive on an assignment, and the student is not satisfied with what they earn, they would go speak to the professor and get some clarification as to why they received said grade. If the discussion were to get heated, the student will ultimately get angry and start using obscene gestures and profane language towards them. Ultimately, in this situation, it obviously is NOT smart to do such a thing, because you are speaking to someone (the professor) who is of higher authority than the student. In this situation, the higher authority is the judge of what we would say. If it were any other situation with friends talking with friends, then the friends would set their own standards and be the judge of their own actions. Professor Tirpak, what you meant with your Benjamin Franklin comment, I totally agree with because it makes so much sense. “People who would give up their “civil liberties” (freedoms) for “protection” (security) deserve neither. I have to agree with it because I find it to be absolutely 100% true.

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