Tag Archives: free speech

Seek And Ye Shall Find

 

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Today is Samuel Johnson’s 308th birthday

Today is the distinguished Samuel Johnson’s 308th birthday. Born in Lichfield, Staffordshire, England on 18 September 1709, Johnson is described by the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography as “arguably the most distinguished man of letters in English history”. He is undoubtedly a key figure in the Enlightenment and the development of the modern English language.

When I was pondering the remarkable work of Johnson, I recalled a story within an oration by Christopher Hitchens. Addressing the issue of free speech, Hitchens describes a curious exchange shortly after the publication of Johnson’s first dictionary. The following short passage is from a transcript of Hitchens’ speech, made at Toronto’s Hart House Debating Club in November 2006.

When it was complete, Dr. Johnson was waited upon by various delegations of people to congratulate him, of the nobility, of the quality, of the Commons, of the Lords — and also by a delegation of respectable ladies of London, who tended on him at his Fleet Street lodgings, and congratulated him.

“Dr. Johnson,” they said, “we are delighted to find that you have not included any indecent or obscene words in your dictionary.”

“Ladies,” said Dr. Johnson, “I congratulate you on being able to look them up.”

To be clear, we undoubtedly live in a world in which there is great injustice, hatred and bigotry. But we spend far too much time arguing about trivialities, rather than focusing on what really matters. If you actively seek offence, then you shall surely find it.

Aidan

Related podcast

#16 – On Liberty and Free Speech

Further reading

‘The Skeptical Libertarian’, Christopher Hitchens: “Freedom of speech means freedom to hate.”, https://blog.skepticallibertarian.com/2014/09/30/christopher-hitchens-freedom-of-speech-means-freedom-to-hate/ [accessed 18 September 2017]

‘Who was Samuel Johnson? The father of the modern dictionary’s funniest entries’, The Telegraph, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/0/samuel-johnson-father-modern-dictionary-funniest-entries/ [accessed 18 September 2017]

 

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#45 – De-Platformed: Challenging Bad Ideas

On July 21, the noted evolutionary biologist and author, Richard Dawkins, was de-platformed by a ‘progressive’ radio station in California because of comments he had previously made about Islam. This decision – powered by the moral confusion that maliciously designates fair criticism of religion as hate speech – is yet another example of the left’s deeply dishonest, nonsensical, virtue-signalling and outlandish apologising whenever Islam is discussed. In this episode, Aidan is joined by Sadia Hameed, spokesperson for the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain, for an honest conversation on the challenging issues of appraising Islam, leaving the faith, the media’s obsession with ‘Islamophobia’, the widespread cultural relativism and obscurantism espoused on the left, the conflation of peaceful Muslims and archaic Islamists by the right, and much more, including the de-platforming of Dawkins. This is an important conversation regarding the interactions of the ideas of Islam and the world. For more information on the Council, visit their web site at https://www.ex-muslim.org.uk/.

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#44 – The New Cold War

Russia has signalled its intent to demand a reduction in the number of US diplomats in the country, following US Congress approving fresh sanctions against Moscow over interference in the 2016 US election. What is driving this new Cold War? Dan Kovalik is a human rights, labour rights lawyer and peace activist. Dan’s new book is called ‘The Plot to Scapegoat Russia: How the CIA and the Deep State Have Conspired to Vilify Russia’. Dan argues that the real threat to US democracy does not emanate from the Kremlin, but from within Washington’s own security services and vested interests. Dan opines that even if Russia did interfere in the US election, for the US to cry foul is entirely hypocritical, in view of numerous attempts to topple leaders and install preferential candidates in other nation states, including in, of course, Russia. Aidan and Dan discuss the Clintons, Vladimir Putin, the mainstream media, how Democrats should respond to Donald Trump if they seek to gain a foothold as an effective opposition, US exceptionalism, and much more. The show also covers a selection of current events, including the Pyongyang issue: Dan gives his take on why North Korea has – at some level – a legitimate grievance with the United States. Dan’s book at Amazon UK: http://tinyurl.com/ya8rcnuh. Dan’s Twitter address: www.twitter.com/danielmkovalik.

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Extraordinarily Bad Ideas

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A scene from the religious satire, Monty Python’s Life of Brian, 1979, directed by Terry Jones.

My latest podcast, Notes on Belief, in which I argue that beliefs matter and are open to reasonable scrutiny.

The phrase, “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” was famously offered by Carl Sagan as a response to beliefs formed despite a lack of tangible certification. Christopher Hitchens, likewise, stated that, “What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.”

These quotes typify my approach to unsubstantiated claims and superstitious beliefs. I released a podcast on June 15, Notes on Belief, which was well-received by the majority of those who heard it (and listened to the argument carefully). As I was so grateful to receive such positive feedback, I have decided – in case you missed them – to point out a selection of other Aidan Project podcasts in which irrational religious beliefs are rightly challenged. I am quite sure that more such episodes will follow, as there are no shortage of theocratic outrages deserving criticism, in the past, in the present and, inevitably, in the future.

It is imperative that society tackles the issues surrounding belief honestly. No free pass for religion, ever. My mission is to speak candidly and to challenge abhorrent ideas.

Liberalism does not mean rolling over for fear of causing offence. Liberalism means standing up for decency and veracity in pursuit of a just world, not apologising for the obscenities of others. I want to do something during my fleeting existence that, even in the most minute way, pushes society towards a brighter future. It is a rather modest, microscopic, contribution amongst such a vast array of discourse, but it is my own.

Thank you for your support,
Aidan

t: @theaidanproject
f: facebook.com/theaidanprojectblog
e: theaidanprojectblog@gmail.com

All of the following show links open in a new web browser tab, or you can find all of my previous episodes on iTunes or YouTube.

Notes on Manchester – My thoughts on militant Islam.

Western Downfall: Why Trump Won – In a wide-ranging episode, the issue of belief – both secular and religious – is addressed.

The Art of Terror – How do you win a battle against a theocratic enemy that values death more than the West values life?

Left to Die: Whilst Liberals Slept – The regrettable issue of liberals apologising for obscene religious beliefs and turning on would-be reformers.

#35 – Notes on Belief

On June 14, Tim Farron announced his intention to resign as leader of the Liberal Democrats, citing unfair media coverage surrounding his Christian faith. In this podcast, Aidan argues that beliefs matter and that religion does not exempt anyone from reasonable scrutiny. You can tweet Aidan with your thoughts @theaidanproject.

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#30 – Notes on Manchester

Aidan talks about the Manchester bombing, which took place at Manchester Arena, England, on 22 May 2017. Aidan feels we need an honest debate on the issues which led to this latest outrage, and that liberals need to attend to a problem of their own: moral confusion. What do you think about the modern, virtue-signalling, ‘liberal’ reaction to any criticism of Islam? Aidan is on Twitter @theaidanproject

Links to items discussed on this episode:

https://www.facebook.com/Morrissey/posts/1349891061714098

https://twitter.com/AsraNomani/status/867109727024631808

For more ways to listen, to subscribe to the podcast or to sign-up for e-mail updates when new content is available, please click here.

#17 – The Fake News Agenda

In this edition of the Aidan Project, Aidan is joined by Gary Herman to discuss press freedom, fake news, citizen journalism and the future of a free press in a digital age. Also discussed on this show is Donald Trump’s scheduled autumn visit to the United Kingdom, why journalists often refrain from pressing public figures on evaded questions, ‘Stop Funding Hate’, the lack of trust of the public in the media, Facebook as a news source, Leveson, and much more. Gary is a member of the British National Union of Journalists and has been campaigning for press and broadcasting freedom for 37 years. Gary sits on the National Council of The Campaign for Press & Broadcasting Freedom (http://www.cpbf.org.uk/), which is funded by membership and trade unions. Established in 1979, the CPBF strives for a more accountable, freer and diverse media. Gary has a background in journalism and writing, beginning his career as a freelance journalist and author, specialising in film and popular music and authoring or co-authoring a number of books. If you would like to find out more information about Gary, you can visit http://www.keywordsassociates.com/.

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