(with apologies for the title – in my defence I was chanelling the spirit of Ian Dury at the time)
I enthusiastically signed up to Suw Charman-Anderson‘s Ada Lovelace Day pledge and now I have a dilemma: who do I blog about?
I’m wracking my brains to think of someone and am struggling. This in turn presents me with a second dilemma: do I suffer in silence or admit to my failure and ask for help?
I’ve opted to go for the latter. Can anyone help me?
My pledge to buy the Jewel of Medina is just one signatory away from being fulfilled, so if you haven’t already signed up, please do.
Since I launched the pledge, the publishers Gibson Square have postponed the publication of the book indefinitely, which means that the firebombers may have won. Shelina Zahra Janmohamed has also written a review of the book on the BBC Magazine.
In Shelina’s view, the book is a bodice-ripping yawn. Having read the book, I will defer to her judgement. But trash deserves the right to be published as much as quality literature. Get the trash taken off the shelves and the quality will follow. And is Islam really so fragile to be vulnerable to shallow nonsense? To be fair on Shelina, she doesn’t suggest otherwise and doesn’t call for the book for be banned. She is right to say that “If our society upholds the right to offend, then the right to be offended goes with it.” The problem is, too many people want a right not to be offended.
In my view, if you value freedom of speech and have enough spare income to afford it, you have a moral duty to buy any book under threat, no matter how dreadful it may or may not be. The book itself is meaningless, it is the precedent that is important. Can I get one more person who feels the same way before the end of the month? More to the point, can I get anyone else to set up more pledges like it?
Finally, note how spineless the BBC are – the picture of a woman reading the book accompanying Shelina’s article carries the disclaimer “Picture posed by a model” as if it would be uneccessarily inflammatory to have a picture of an actual person actually reading. Yet of course, Shelina herself has read the book, so it is completely nonsensical anyway.
Bold words from Young Master Clegg in his campaign email today:
On our core liberal issues, I believe we must be bold. We must take our ideas, and turn them into action. This week I took the first step: we have always opposed identity cards but I became the first national politician to pledge to refuse to register, and risk going to court for my principles.
This blog doesn’t make a habit of saying nice things about Simon Hughes, but doesn’t he beat Cleggy on this score by at least two years? Indeed, I seem to recall him making much out of it during the last leadership election.
The second NO2ID pledge also lists Matthew Taylor MP and Nick Harvey MP. I’m sure people with more time on their hands could probably come up with others.
Taking a principled stance is fine and dandy, but let’s not get carried away shall we?