When I was a younger ideologue, I used to think the the United Nation was a force for good in the world, providing aid and protection to citizens of countries ravaged by war, famine, and instability. I have since realized this institution is a bloated corpse, capable only of furthering the interests of the few countries who have a permanent seat on the security council. If anyone else in the UN decides to do anything at all to try and improve the world, they usually allow racist, bigoted countries the right to reduce the protection of sexual minorities, or even defend religious violence by declaring no one is allowed to speak out against them. That’s according to Staffan di Mistura, Special Representative and Chief of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan.
Freedom of speech does not mean freedom of offending culture, religion, traditions, especially when there are so many of us, both civilians and frankly military, in many parts of the world and particularly in Afghanistan. So I think the main blame we have is about the irresponsible gesture that was made on that case. The proof is that those who entered our building were actually furiously angry about the issue about the Koran. There was nothing political there.”
So Staffan, what the fuck is left? If freedom of speech doesn’t include “offending” religious traditions, am I left with only the ability to criticize politics? What am I supposed to do when the two are invariably intertwined, especially when it comes to Islam??
Freedom of speech means people are allowed to offend others. That’s kind of the point. Without the ability to offend, free speech has no teeth and it’s completely ineffectual. Whether it’s burning a Koran or a Bible, people should be able to say what they want when they want. Without this ability, how can we even be sure we live in a just society?