First of all, no it’s not a Monday. Though we’re sticklers for the tradition of updating Small Fry once a week, we are breaking out and posting on a Thursday. We are going to be in a small way, a part of Flashreads One Billion Rising, an initiative started a year ago, in support of the fundamental right of free expression. Flash reads works kind of like a flash mob, except instead leaping into a choreographed version of Anything Goes, you stand the hell up in a public place and read out loud from works of literature. What we’re doing is posting a bunch of things people have said about freedom and we’re ending with a passage from George Orwells 1984, an ominous tone of what can happen if people keep getting arrested for facebook updates, if books are banned and if people stop questioning, thinking, expressing and wanting. Can Literature and writing save the world? We think it can, one goddamn word at a time.
“All these people talk so eloquently about getting back to good old-fashioned values. Well, as an old poop I can remember back to when we had those old-fashioned values, and I say let’s get back to the good old-fashioned First Amendment of the good old-fashioned Constitution of the United States — and to hell with the censors! Give me knowledge or give me death!”
– Kurt Vonnegut
“Free speech means the right to shout ‘theatre’ in a crowded fire.”
– Abbie Hoffman (Eds Note: Say whaaat?)
“We live in a world in which people are censured, demoted, imprisoned, beheaded, simply because they have opened their mouths, flapped their lips, and vibrated some air. Yes, those vibrations can make us feel sad or stupid or alienated. Tough shit. That’s the price of admission to the marketplace of ideas. Hateful, blasphemous, prejudiced, vulgar, rude, or ignorant remarks are the music of a free society, and the relentless patter of idiots is how we know we’re in one. When all the words in our public conversation are fair, good, and true, it’s time to make a run for the fence.”
– Daniel Gilbert
“I don’t see how the study of language and literature can be separated from the question of free speech, which we all know is fundamental to our society. [p.92]”
– Northrop Frye
“But I think what’s important about this debate is not written into any specific ‘gotcha’ on this, but asking the question: What about freedom of speech? Should we limit speech from people we find abhorrent? Should we limit racists from speaking?
I don’t want to be associated with those people, but I also don’t want to limit their speech in any way in the sense that we tolerate boorish and uncivilised behavior because that’s one of the things freedom requires: is that we allow people to be boorish and uncivilised, but that doesn’t mean we approve of it.”
– Rand Paul
And now…drumroll please…
The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power, pure power. What pure power means you will understand presently. We are different from the oligarchies of the past in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites. The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives. They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just around the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal. We are not like that. We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power.”
– George Orwell, 1984