quarta-feira, fevereiro 09, 2005

Democracy is Not Polite Tea Party

Com este título Salman Rushdie tem uma coluna de opinião onde ataca a possível lei contra a blasfémia na Grã-Bretanha. Diz Rushdie (destaques meus):

Offense and insult are part of everyday life for everyone in Britain (or the U.S., for that matter). All you have to do is open a daily paper and there's plenty to offend. Or you can walk into the religion section of a bookshop and discover you're damned to various kinds of eternal hellfire, which is certainly insulting, not to say overheated.

The idea that any kind of free society can be constructed in which people will never be offended or insulted, or in which they have the right to call on the law to defend them against being offended or insulted, is absurd.

São ideias comuns que o senso comum reconhece como verdadeiras. Claro que a polícia do pensamento e do politicamente correcto não está de acordo. Continua Rushdie:

In the end, a fundamental decision needs to be made: Do we want to live in a free society or not? Democracy is not a tea party where people sit around making polite conversation. In democracies, people get extremely upset with each other. They argue vehemently against each other's positions. (But they don't shoot.)

Outra verdade. O facto de se discutir não leva a que as pessoas disparem umas contra as outras. Mas Rushdie vai mais além e aponta algumas das consequências da nova lei (se aprovada):

With its proposed "incitement to religious hatred" law, Prime Minister Tony Blair's government has set out to create that impossibility. Privately they'll tell you the law is designed to please "the Muslims." But which Muslims, when and on what day?

The ability of this proposed law to protect "the Muslims" seems to me arguable. It is possible that instead it will be used against Muslims before it's used against anyone else. There are identifiable racist and right-wing groups in Britain that would argue that Muslims are the ones inciting religious hatred, and these groups would use, or try to use, this law against them.

There is no question that there also are Muslim leaders who are anxious to prosecute others (for example, me and my book, "The Satanic Verses") and will try to do so if this law is passed. So this law would unleash some major expressions of intolerance.

A conclusão é naturalmente trágica mas lógica:

What this kind of attitude ultimately does, and what the law would do, is undermine a principle of free expression that affects everyone in Britain, religious or not. If we cannot have open discourse about the ideas by which we live, then we are straitjacketing ourselves.

It does matter that people have the right to take an argument to the point where somebody is offended by what they say. It's no trick to support the free speech of somebody you agree with or to whose opinion you are indifferent. The defense of free speech begins at the point when people say something you can't stand. If you can't defend their right to say it, then you don't believe in free speech. You believe in free speech only as long as it doesn't get up your nose. But free speech does get up people's noses. Nietzsche called Christianity "the one great curse" and "the one immortal blemish on mankind." Would Nietzsche now be prosecuted?

Esta tendência para punir a blasfémia que se vem notando em certos países do norte da Europa (Reino Unido e Holanda por exemplo) é preocupante, ainda para mais, ligada ao politicamente correcto (alegado respeito por minorias, etc.). Se calhar vai ser preciso lutar de novo pelo direito à liberdade de expressão.