Why Ipso was correct: freedom of expression means the freedom to offend

When the row blew up over Kelvin MacKenzie’s column in the Sun about Fatima Manji wearing a hijab while presenting Channel 4 News, I said he was wrong.

Wrong because his criticism was hateful and offensive and vulgar. But that’s the price we must pay for freedom of expression (a point made endlessly in the aftermath of the massacre of Charlie Hebdo’s cartoonists).

I didn’t share MacKenzie’s views, but so what? There are precious few things we agree about. It’s just how it is. And I’m sure that Sir Alan Moses, chairman of the Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso), would have few views in common with MacKenzie.

Indeed, I would doubt if any single member of Ipso’s complaints committee agreed with the Sun columnist’s opinion. I say again, so what? [Roy Greenslade, 412 comments]

[TOP RATED COMMENT 184 votes] I am French and although I watch Channel 4 News every day and Fatima, the day she was on air to report on the Nice attack, I was shocked, traumatized by the events themselves. I still can’t understand why Muslims need to dress in a particular way in order to show they’re religious.

In that particular case, I had the same reaction as McKenzie’s, although not as contemptuous. If you are not French, you may not understand, but that day Ch4 ought to have assumed that some would find Fatima’s headscarf too much. I did, regardless of what I think about Islam. Dissociating a headscarf and jihadism is sometimes difficult in that context. Ignoring the fact that it could shock is arrogant.

[2ND 122] It is refreshing to see someone defend the right of freedom of speech especially when they disagree with what the person they are defending said.

[3RD 106] You absolutely have the right to be offended, you do not have the right not to be offended.

Something that seems to divide the opinion of the West and Islamic world… [The Guardian] Read more

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