The sickening attack on Salman Rushdie illustrates the enormous price sometimes paid for exercising the right to freedom of expression.
It should urge everyone to always be vigilant to ensure that this right is universally respected in whatever context and public discourse they find themselves in.
It would also be a fitting way to acknowledge the remarkable courage and integrity of the renowned author who not only exercises this right but continues to fight for it.
J Anthony Gaughan, President of PEN Ireland
Freedom of expression must be absolute or none at all
John Fitzgerald attempts to advocate for Salman Rushdie’s freedom of speech (“Violence, or the throne of it, should never stifle free speech,” Letters, August 15), but stumbles when he says: “The attack on Salman Rushdie serves in a blatant exchange of blows, reminding everyone that freedom of speech is a right that we must not take for granted. Of course, Mr Rushdie’s literary achievements are not to be confused with the hate speech we see on social media every day.”
This implicit approval of circumstances in which freedom of expression may be restricted shows why freedom of expression should be absolute or not at all.
“Hate” is a subjective standard where a reasonable criticism or gross observation can be interpreted as hateful by the recipient. In this case, the Ayatollah of Iran disagrees with Mr Fitzgerald as to the quality of Mr Rushdie’s work and appears to believe so The Satanic Verses are deeply hateful and go well beyond social media.
That’s nonsense, of course, but so is the idea that Rushdie, or anyone else, should be punished, judicially or extrajudicially, for insulting someone else, however rude.
City of Kilkenny
Rushdie attack highlights the importance of art in society
In yesterday’s editorial on the tragic, near-fatal attack on Salman Rushdie (“An Attack on Free Speech That Should Disturb Us All”) Irish IndependentAugust 15), there was a pending paragraph.
“It has been said that the average man or woman doesn’t want to be free – they just want to be safe. However, if societies don’t have a safe place for artists like Salman Rushdie, they won’t be either.”
The arts are more valued today than they used to be.
Those who study the history of art in Ireland are aware of the crucial role it has played in capturing the imagination of the Irish nation. They created the means to achieve independence from the then British Empire.
In the last few days, a lot has appeared in the Irish media about the “father of the nation” Arthur Griffith (1871-1922) – unfortunately late, but grateful for it.
Griffith, like many of his colleagues and friends, was an enthusiast of Irish “arts and culture”.
‘The father’ of this movement was Standish James O’Grady (1846-1928) who published and raised awareness of Ireland’s Celtic history The History of Ireland1878.
Unfortunately, naivety leads to attacks on the Salman Rushdies of this world.
Therefore, it is important that people engage fully with any subject they wish to learn about. Knowledge must be passed on so that we can be “free and safe”.
The world is burning, but the US and China keep polluting
When children as young as 8 and 10 burst into tears at the current heatwaves, wildfires and floods, they know it’s time to act – and act fast.
As a species, we have known about global warming and its connection to various emissions under our control for decades, but we lack the political or moral courage to fully address the things we must do to halt and ultimately reverse the situation.
China and the US, two of the biggest polluters, are still really just making noise, and only when these countries get to grips with the world’s problems will we see real progress.
The less said about little old Ireland the better. We have a miserable record, and it’s not just because of the national herd of cattle.
One bright spot — even if we do have a shady tanning history
With recent sunshine, we’ve seen more tans in this country than we did in 1921.
Beaumont, Dublin 9
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/letters/right-that-should-be-upheld-without-a-threat-of-violence-41914157.html Right that should be upheld without threat of force