Thursday, January 12, 2006

Freedom of expression

Yesterday and today we´ve had lectures on freedom of expression. For the most part it was interesting, but I´m never crazy about dealing extensively with hypothetical/philosophical situations. I know, maybe this is my punto flecha (I don´t know if that´s phrased correctly), but entering into extensive discourse on well-trodden paths such as "is pornography artistic expression covered by freedom of expression,?" etc etc. I find rather tedious. Give me reality. Yes, as a humanist / scholar I should be able to do scenario planning, and indulge in the hypothetical, and yet. Maybe it is because I have a very postmodern, relativistic approach to these questions: do what you want to as long as you´re not harming anyone, and doing whatever with their consent.

That said, a recent case (more correctly, this week in Spain) is that, General Mena, the head of the armed forces here in Spain, quoted from the Spanish Constitution in saying that re the claim for autonomy by Catalonia via a Catalonian Statute (Estatuto Catalán), if excessive, the armed forces would act if necessary to preserve the state. In so doing he was castigated by the government (the Defense Minister Bono) for opining about the affairs of state (See In Democracy 101, we know that in order to further the doctrine of the "separation of powers", the military is not supposed to have (or more explicitly express) opinions about the affairs of a nation state. So, this guy was castigated, and two other higher-ups were also similarly castigated. Then, two days ago an open letter was published in La Razón (the indy paper here signed by a number of high-level persons expressing support for the concern expressed by General Mena. Other news is that there´s a lot of separate discussion, apart from the above, about the Estatuto Catalán. For me, speaking about the Estatuto is like trying to make sense of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, in that the situation is very complex, and it´s difficult to say who is right, wrong, etc. And of course, there is a lot of emotion involved, on both sides.

Hhhmm, my English is all funny today.

So, today we are discussing pornography, and some of the reactions (giggles, etc) from my classmates reminds me of my second-year students´ response when I showed them an award-winning video from RESFEST of 2003. The video, I forget who the band was, was an excellent example of the use of cartooning to tell a story, and make a snide commentary on society, within the space of 3 minutes. I am also reminded of the time that I lectured on how the adult industry drives the development of Internet technologies. My students were very uncomfortable that I had dedicated an entire lecture to the topic. But well, are we to deny that the demand for greater bandwidth, improved viewing technology, etc is not greatly driven by this market almost subterranean?


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