Thursday, April 1, 2010

the question of god and free speech

Recently, an article in The Toronto Star has exposed the controversial banners (advertisements?) posted along the side of TTC streetcars. The banners provoke passer-bys to deal with common questions surrounding religion and to procede to a website, a discussion forum, to read and contribute to the questions at hand. The most recent polemic question posed: "Does God care if I'm gay?" The "answers" were removed from the website.

Toronto has the most homosexuals per capita than any other city in the world, so I understand when the banners border on offensive. I also do not think that the "answers" provided by "God" are legitimate markers of logic or reason: Instead, it should be looked at as an opinion, a very mighty opinion, mind you.

However, Canada is one of those "forward-thinking" countries who believe in censoring hateful comments. Like an overprotective mother, it cuddles and cradles all those who are "defenseless". In all seriousness, I think it's more offensive for the State to think that a woman, a gay, an ethnic minority, or a religious minority as "defenseless" creatures who need protection. That just sends out the wrong message.

In order to defend these weak, sub-sections of humans, the government, of all levels, has taken it upon itself to form our society's opinions. This is outrageous. I have been reading some of Marx's thoughts on freedom of the press and freedom of speech, and not even J.S. Mills could put it so eloquently:

We can answer this question only by criticizing it.

- [The Leading Article in No. 179 of the Kolnische Zeitung: Religion, Free Press and Philosophy]

Although this sentence was referring to philosophy as an idea, the same applies to thoughts and ideas, which in themselves are a form of informal philosphy. Not only does the question "Does God care if I'm gay?" bring to the public's attention the ever-current tension between homosexuality and the Church, it brings about thoughts about the validity of God's opinion: Why should a homosexual care what God thinks? Why should anyone care about insuring their place in God's good books if we aren't even sure he exists? Why not, like the banners of before questioned, just enjoy the life we have now?

This is what debate forums and chat groups should be about, as long as relevancy prevails. Personal attacks and emotionally driven anger have no place in rounds of discussion in the search of truth, but if the "answers" are rlevant, and we can question those answers, then question those questions, why are they being removed?

This is a tough spot for me because, as I begin to get the ball rolling, I would like TIP to become a debate forum without censorship. It will remain respectful and anything that is not relevant, especially personal attacks, would be removed (more because it's a waste of time to read something uneducated and unintelligent). I want it to become a forum for people to discuss relevant issues, like the elite did in salons during the Enlightenment, but current and accessible to all.

Freedom of Speech is one of those ideas, at the same time practical, that pushes and compels humanity to move forward: To rise against the oppression that is now verbalized which, before, was just a latent feeling lashed out in passive-agreesive manners. Without free speech, we cannot see nor understand nor comprehend the other side's view. We cannot fight back because we do not know their ammunition. We cannot take their "facts" or opinions, research them and then find them false. Without free speech, we live in a war with loaded guns and blindfolds.

1 comment:

  1. It's not so much as to why should we care if we are accepted by God, the question more along sparks acceptance within a sub-sector of society. Everyone wants acceptance, especially when met with such a head-strong sense of black and white.

    The problem with the internet though is that the people on there all think that they are right and that no amount of debating and discussion will change their mind. They are more likely to band together and bully others until the smaller ones just leave and they are free to keep thinking the way they do. The internet is both a wonderful place and a terrible place. It's more like a school playground. It can be a place of learning or a place that creates an abysmal place to be in, especially if your don't "Fit in".