25 November 2009

Dear Nick Cohen: Please Defend to the Death

Nick Cohen is very angry at a Muslim:
[John] Denham is entertaining Inayat Bunglawala of the MCB, who gave a taste of the 'progressive' policies Labour is encouraging when he wrote an article defending Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, and a preacher who recommends wife-beating, genital mutilation of girls and the murder of apostates and homosexuals. Earlier this year, the sheikh said of Adolf Hitler's massacres of the Jews: 'This was divine punishment for them. Allah willing, the next time will be at the hand of the believers.'

I like that. "Wrote an article defending". Classic smearmonger sleight-of-hand from Cohen there. I can disapprove of the death penalty for shoplifting without being pro-shoplifting. Every day, batsmen across the world defend the wicket without sharing its opinions. Who's to blame for this world where anyone thinks this kind of bollocks smear is worth printing? I'll tell you who: shit Voltaireans. You know the ones. Not read a word of his work except one thing he didn't even say:
I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.

Thing is, a lot of people these days - especially racists and homophobes - use it exclusively for people they who they don't disapprove of. So instead a doctrine of universal free speech that says "I personally disagree, but you can say it if you want", we get the far less universal "I personally agree entirely, so you can say it if you want". And now Nick Cohen thinks (or expects his readers to think) that 'defend' means 'wholeheartedly agree with'.

Let this be a lesson to you. Every time you use that quote for someone you agree with, you're breaking it. You confuse the slow readers of the world, and you make it easier for shameless dick-waving journos to run their petty, spiteful guilt-by-association shtick on proper human beings.

Of course, I defend Nick Cohen's right to say all this, but please don't take that to mean I don't think he's a hackish bag of dicks.

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