November 13, 2007

The Bungling of Bunglawala

Free speech is a value often abused and misunderstood. A curious case came up earlier this week which made me question some of the statements of that much maligned organisation the MCB.

You see yesterday, Inayat Bunglawala, a spokesman for the MCB, condemned the imprisonment of the lyrical terrorist (so called because she is a girl who likes writing poems about killing people like me on the net) because of what she had said and because she had downloaded manuals to make bombs from the internet, because it was a violation of free speech. Fair enough I thought, there is an absolutist argument about free speech that might suggest that conclusion.

Then I got rather confused. Because I was browsing, as you do, the socialist worker website and I came across a familiar name. That's right twas young Inayat and he was writing about that bill on religious hatred that everyone got up in arms about. Now I'd presumed that Inayat would be taking the same absolutist stance, but oh no. Look over here at the bottom section of the article and you'll find our friend's views about freedom of speech, it is important apparently to balance that against the potential harm and public good of the speech in question.

An interestingly contradictory set of statements one might think! Inayat believes and does not believe in absolute freedom of expression depending on the moment- it is my fundamental right to say that I want to bomb you, my fundamental right to download materials from the internet about bombing and to write poems about how nice your brains would look if only they were blown from your skull, but if I criticise a hegemonic religion and religious establishment that should be banned. Somehow I get the impression that Inayat is more worried about the power of priests than the sensibilities of people, somehow I get the impression that Inayat doesn't really care about Muslims, he cares about Islam as an institutional and ideological reality.

Somehow I think he is opposed to the very set of ideas which promote freedom of speech in the first place- to liberalism itself. Or perhaps its because Inayat just doesn't think blowing up people (Muslim, Christian, Jewish and atheist) is as important as the dignity of his particular Church.


Eamonn said...

very well said.

Vino S said...

I agree with you. He is taking a hypocritical position. I don't see why he is trying to defend someone who seems to be inciting terrorist acts via song. He is on a rather sticky wicket.

Also, I do not think that religion should be immune from criticism - like some Islamists seem to think. The right to criticise religion is inherent to a free society. Freedom of religion also means freedom from religion. Those who wish to take an atheist stance and convert others to it by attacking Islam or any other religion should be able to.

edmund said...

Indeed obvious hyocrisy someone who uses the language of free speech but has no time for it. I think this also gives a usefull insight into his values- bombing material and calls to the call the infidel-valid, "hatred" of islam however peacefull invalid.

i think it's improtnat to realize that islamist only want their religon to be immune from criticims the freedom to denouce diffent variotns of belief (including those that see themselves as non belief) is key to a civil socieyt

i think faith wold be a better word than church-which is a very chrisna term and doens' translate into islam very well for a number of reasons. This is a very techinical point- but the kind of point this blog is generally good on!

Phil A said...

A hypocrite with a malleable concept of free speech.

He basically does not give a monkeys about it - but is happy to use it to justify what suits him, as he knows it is valued in the west and can be used against it.

Gracchi said...

Edmund I agree Church is clumsy but I wanted to give a sense of the institutional element to what Inayat is partially about- he isn't so much about the faith that has lots of variety in it as the institution which only permits one form of that faith and then wishes to use the law to defend it.

Baron Higham-West said...

Now isn't that interesting. You run a post on Islam in Britain and I do too.