Friday, February 22nd, I had the privilege to attend a lecture by Salman Rushdie at Florida State University. When I told my friends I was driving 3 hours away to see one of my favorite authors, the most common response was, "Aren't you afraid of getting bombed?" Honestly, that thought had not worried me one iota. Yes, there is a $3 million dollar bounty on his head, and Iran did just recently renew the fatwa against him, but this was a once in a lifetime opportunity to see him, and I wasn't going to let fear of terrorist keep me home.
It did not occur to me until after the event that this decision was one that Mr. Rushdie makes every day. In fact, freedom was one of the topics which he spoke about. He is a fervent proponent of the freedom of speech, and has even been in the uncomfortable position of defending the rights of the people that want to kill him. He spoke eloquently about the importance of this right and of the difficulty of supporting it. He made it very clear that if you support the right to free speech, you must support it for everyone, and that often means defending the rights of those who are abhorrent to you. I think that this point is something that is being lost in the United States right now. We love to tout our freedom of speech, but when it comes to something we disagree with, we immediately strike it down in the name of offensiveness or discrimination. Freedom of speech is freedom for everyone, and everyone includes those we'd rather not hear from.
This is a subject that bloggers and blog-readers should pay attention to. In many countries right now (Iran, Pakistan, Korea, China, etc.) it is the bloggers that are being silenced. Even in this country, bloggers who have written inflammatory things are being taken to court. Freedom of speech is one of the most fundamental rights of humanity. If we do not preserve it now, there will be no one to save it later. Please visit the following to learn more about how you can become involved in protecting your rights:
Comic Book Legal Defense Fund
50 Ways to Fight Censorship