Thursday, March 16, 2006

South Park vs. Scientology Round 2

It appears that after legal threats from Tom Cruise the South Park episode which so offended Mr. Hayes will not be shown in the UK or repeated in the US. There are even suggestions that this is due to his threatening to cancel publicity for Mission Impossible III with Viacom. This is an absolutely tragic violation of freedom of speech that seriously needs to be fought. Using the court system to harass those who speak out against their religion has been standard practice for the Scientologists for some time and South Park is a show uniquely placed to get past this thanks to its high ratings and experience with controversy.

Of course, the episode has already leaked onto the Internet and free speech will find a way but it is dissapointing that even a well known TV show cannot freely speak out against a group which is only differentiated from the other nutty cults by its funding. Exactly the same logic applies here as it did during the Danish cartoons crisis or after the cancellation of the play about a Sikh temple. Freedom of speech is the principle which guarantees accountability and accountability is a major part of what makes the West the success it is. Freedom of speech is a principle which we should defend to the hilt.


Dave Cole said...

What limits, if any, should be applied to free speech?

Don't you dare say none, because then I'll talk about shouting fire in theatres. What do you define as speech in this context?

Saying that we should defend free speech to the hilt is meaningless. Please provide something we can debate.

Matthew Sinclair said...

Lol... I don't right these things entirely to give you something to debate. Free speech, in this instance, deserves complete, to the hilt, defence.

Dave Cole said...

Given that my opponent has withdrawn from the field, I claim victory.

As it happens, I agree with you; freedom of speech does, and in particular in this instance, need to be defended to the hilt. It needs to be protected from state interference and from the interference of others, particularly the unfortunate tendency of the Scientological (if that's even a word) community to sue at the drop of the proverbial hat.

However, there are times when, because of a conflict between two sets of morality (and no, it's not a necessary conflict and can be resolved with an appeal to meta-morality) and people make, shall we say, unfortunate choices.