Saturday, January 10, 2015

Quote for Day: Should Our Highest Value Be Free Speech or Love, Kindness, Generosity, and Respect for Others?

Rabbi Michael Lerner, editor of Tikkun, on the way in which the media are treating free speech as an absolute value, and the highest in the canon of values, in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo murders, while the structural violence that inflicts suffering on millions of people to enrich a few goes totally unnoticed by the media:

"And shouldn't free speech and individual human liberties be our highest value? This value that is put into danger if you ask for some kind of responsibility from comedians." Two responses: 1. No, individaul human liberties is not our highest value. Our highest value is treating human beings with love, kindness, generosity, respect and see them as embodiments of the holy, and treating the earth as sacred. Individual liberty is a strategy to promote this highest value, but when that liberty gets abused (as for example in demeaning women, African Americans, gays in public discourse) we often insist that the articulators of racism, sexism and homophobia be publicly humiliated (not shut down, but using our free speech to vigorously challenge theirs). 2. Free speech is not defeated when we use it to try to marginalize hateful or demeaning speech. So lets call demeaning speech, including demeaning humor, what it really is -- an assault on the dignity of human beings. 
None of this is reason to stop mourning the horrific murders in Paris or to excuse it in any way. But it is reason to wonder why the media can never tell a more nuanced story of what is happening our world.

To which I say a hearty Amen.

(Thanks to Jim McCrea for sharing this article with his email circle.)

No comments: