If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

- George Washington

Monday, 19 October 2009

Frank and Phobias

I usually like Frank Furedi, who seems to talk a lot of common sense for a sociologist. I particularly liked this piece, on the use of the term 'phobia' to describe anything we don't like. I've always been irritated by terms like 'homophobia' and 'Islamophobia', and this article explains why, much better than I could.

I will leave it to you to go and read, which I recommend. I will just post this quotation, which I think gets to the nub of the issue.

In today’s phobic imagination, it seems people are not allowed to have negative or hostile views of other people’s lifestyles or cultures. The term phobia implies that if you dislike a certain lifestyle then you must be an irrational bigot. In such circumstances, criticising a way of life or a religion becomes an act akin to sacrilege. Free speech and open debate are regarded as luxuries in a world where giving offence is seen as an unpardonable sin.

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