All entries by this author

Todd Gitlin on Bad versus Good Reporting *

Jan 22nd, 2005 | Filed by

Rumors of death of aspirations for truth in favor of mere “perspective” are greatly exaggerated. … Read the rest

Singer Takes Bush Administration to Task *

Jan 22nd, 2005 | Filed by

For allowing ideology to trump empiricism and sound reasoning.… Read the rest

What’s Not To Like About The Academic Bill of Rights

Jan 22nd, 2005 | By Graham Larkin

Locking up my bike on the way to the office on May 3, 2004, I noticed that events were underway in the large pavilion pitched in front of the Hoover Center, the right-wing think tank overshadowing my office in the Nathan Cummings Art Building at Stanford University. The voice on the microphone was introducing prominent ultra-conservative intellectual David Horowitz. As the representative for private universities on the steering committee of the California Conference of the American Association of University Professors (CA-AAUP), I had recently taken a pressing interest in Mr. Horowitz’s activities. He is, after all, the brains behind the mischievously-named-and-crafted Academic Bill of Rights – a document which co-opts post-modern ideas on the situated nature of truth and … Read the rest

Column A and Column B

Jan 21st, 2005 8:59 pm | By

There was an interview with Amrit and Rabindra Singh on Front Row last night. Mark Lawson asked them (about six minutes in) what they think about the controversy about ‘Behzti,’ especially as Sikhs themselves. Of course, as artists, they think freedom of expression is important and that artists should express what they think is valid, but – there have to be boundaries somewhere along the line. It’s like the idea of a so-called free society: that doesn’t mean you can walk down the street and punch your neighbour in the face. There have to be some regulations and rules that take other people’s feelings into account; artists should not seek knowingly to offend people’s feelings, or to offend the feelings … Read the rest

‘Sponge Bob is Poofter’ Shock! *

Jan 21st, 2005 | Filed by

Christian group gets knickers in twist over tolerance pledge.… Read the rest

Bible Gives Conflicting Advice on Whipping Children *

Jan 21st, 2005 | Filed by

Is it God’s idea of discipline or approved child abuse?… Read the rest

Harvard President on Women in Science and Maths *

Jan 21st, 2005 | Filed by

Are there innate cognitive differences, is there evidence, is it ‘offensive’ to discuss?… Read the rest

Graham Larkin Replies to David Horowitz *

Jan 21st, 2005 | Filed by

Is the Academic Bill of Rights about ‘balance’ or not?… Read the rest


Jan 20th, 2005 8:30 pm | By

PEN’s Open Letter is quite interesting, I think.

Although we applaud the government’s wish to make everyone in our multi-cultural, multi-faith nation feel that they have an equal stake in Britain, the proposed amendment to the bill is misguided. It is emphatically not the way forward. It creates a climate which engenders events such as the recent Sikh riot in Birmingham. Here a violent mob, on the grounds that a play offended their religion, successfully prevented its performance, acted as censors, and threatened the life of its author. Fiona MacTaggart, the Home Office Minister, has contended that the remit of the proposed legislation is narrow. However, the signal the offence clause sends out to religious leaders is broad. It serves

Read the rest

Hadi Saleh 1949-2005 *

Jan 20th, 2005 | Filed by

Iraqi trade unionist fought for workers’ rights, opposed rule of Saddam Hussein and recent war. … Read the rest

PEN: The OFFENCE Campaign *

Jan 20th, 2005 | Filed by

Against legislation that could make it illegal to express provocative views on religion.… Read the rest

Home Office to Meet Writers to Discuss Worries *

Jan 20th, 2005 | Filed by

That the proposed new law on inciting religious hatred will stifle artistic liberty.… Read the rest

Writers Against Incitement to Religious Hatred Law *

Jan 20th, 2005 | Filed by

‘if religious leaders had their way, we would have little literature, less art and no humour.’… Read the rest

Rappers Face Court for Threats *

Jan 20th, 2005 | Filed by

Den Haag Connection sang about wanting to break Hirsi Ali’s neck.… Read the rest

The Independent on Hirsi Ali *

Jan 20th, 2005 | Filed by

‘We are talking about an international phenomenon here, not just a local incident.’… Read the rest

Index on Censorship on Hirsi Ali *

Jan 20th, 2005 | Filed by

With useful links.… Read the rest

Scott McLemee on Susan Sontag *

Jan 20th, 2005 | Filed by

Recording the experience of a mind trying to map its own labyrinths.… Read the rest

Dutch MP Ayaan Hirsi Ali Returns to Public Life *

Jan 20th, 2005 | Filed by

Vows to continue as MP and in fight against oppression of women.… Read the rest

Bad Legacy

Jan 20th, 2005 3:41 am | By

A reader sent me the link to this interesting item in the Guardian. The subhead starts things right off – ‘Colonial attitudes linger, finding their most xenophobic expression among liberal defenders of free speech.’ Uh oh.

The argument is basically a ‘taboo’ argument. Every culture has some sacred things, which should be beyond criticism, and certainly beyond mockery. In the UK, it’s the Queen that’s sacred; all cultures have ’em.

Neither is rationalism alien to eastern cultures. Science and mathematics thrived both in the great age of Hindu civilisation and Islamic ascendancy. Eastern cultures have long traditions of theatre, reform movements and of absorbing criticism. But when a creative work offends the sacred, it loses its message.

Well, that’s … Read the rest

New Biography of Francis Galton *

Jan 19th, 2005 | Filed by

Eugenics, statistics, regression, blathering sermon.… Read the rest