You can’t say that!
Our current climate of extreme polarization in political, religious, military and economic opinions and convictions reminds us of a time, nearly 25 years ago, when we were asked by the Gilbert Paper Company to produce a promotion based on the theme ‘Freedom of Expression’. In those less global, pre-terrorist times the controversial current events – women’s reproductive rights, the Maplethorpe trials, the censorship of song lyrics – informed our solution. We thought it worth retrofitting the content for today’s (less)paper(less) world.
It’s not fit to print! That’s sacrilegious! It’s indecent!
Who is to say what is acceptable? Who is right? What is art?
The line between right and wrong, eloquent and profane, devout and blasphemous, beautiful and obscene, though sharp is evanescent, depending on the point of view.
The expression of an idea – whether unconventional, controversial, or even hateful to the prevailing climate – may not be prohibited simply because segments of society find the idea itself offensive or disagreeable.
The function of free expression is to invite dispute.
The freedom to differ extends to things that touch the heart of the existing order.
Nobody can prescribe what shall be the orthodox in politics, religion or other matters of opinion. Today’s heresy may be tomorrow’s orthodoxy. The audience that hissed yesterday may applaud today, even for the same performance.
The environment illuminates the meaning of acts, as context does that of words.
Judgments, if any, should be rendered accordingly……
……Freedom of expression means the liberty to be wrong as well as right, to be vicious as well as kind.
No one has a monopoly on freedom.
Opposition must be tolerated. And opposing ideas must be given the respect and latitude that we would claim for our own.
Nobody has the infallible truth.