Very unsurprisingly, I’ve been thinking a lot about freedom of speech this week. For me, the ability to speak my mind, share my thoughts, question things I’m not comfortable with, is something I value extremely highly. There have been a lot of quotes, hashtags, and articles flying around in the wake of the terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo but this is the one that resonates with me:
“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”
These are the words of Evelyn Beatrice Hall, written in her biography of Voltaire (and now often misattributed to him). To me this encapsulates what freedom of speech is, the right to speak your mind no matter what the rest of the world may think of what it is you are saying.
However that is not all that freedom of speech entails as far as I am concerned. If you choose to utilise that freedom then in doing so you implicitly accept the consequences; you accept responsibility for the words you utter.
So if your words incite hatred and violence, you much be ready to pay the price set out by law. If your words offend, regardless of whether you meant them to or not, you must answer those who criticism and demand to know why you felt the need to say them. You accept that you may receive other people’s harsh words in return, that you may receive condemnation, may be judged. If your words wound someone, hurt them, you bare the guilt.
This is my belief. I do not expect everyone to agree, or to even care, but it is how I view every single thing I put in a tweet or in my blog posts. These are my words, my responsibility, a part of me. That doesn’t mean I don’t say what I think but it does mean I’m willing to discuss what I’ve said, explain if explanations are called for. Sometimes I learn things, change my views, change my words. Sometimes someone else does. But without that discourse, without the freedom to engage in it, the world would be a stagnant, lonely and frankly terrifying place – so whilst I may not agree with what Charlie Hebdo did, I stand behind them, ready to fight for their right to offend me.
So, now I’ve been all political and serious, I’ll revert to something a little less contentious – what I’ve been doing with myself. The week has been a bit of an emotional rollercoaster, with my Great Aunt’s funeral on Friday and various other bits and bobs, but I’ve got a lot done at work and personally I’ve got a few things out of the way that were bugging me. Dog has been rather lovely, there have been many more snuggles than usual, plus some rather cute falling asleep on my feet moments. Anyone who doesn’t think animals are intelligent and know what’s going on just need to spend a week with her to have their opinions changed.
I can’t not mention the 8 Oscar nominations that The Imitation Game received from the Academy today, including Best Actor for Benedict Cumberbatch. I’m thirlled for him and I’m thrilled for the film (although I don’t hold any illusions as to their chances of actually winning anything – no female directors were nominated, nor were any people of colour, I doubt a biopic of a gay man stands a chance against The Theory of Everything which is just lovely and heterosexual). I know that many people have issues with the historical correctness of what was protrayed – I was very aware of it myself as I watched – but, at the risk of annoying several people, I have to say that wasn’t the point of the film. This was a film about Turing as a person. It set out to introduce an unlikely hero to a wider audience and the way they scripted his life facilitated that excellently.
As I said when I reviewed it after seeing the UK premiere, the Alan Turing that Benedict brought to the screen was the Alan Turing who had been in my head since I was first introduced to his works at University. That was what made the film so powerful for me. That was why I loved it. What I sincerely hope is that all the people who didn’t know Turing, weren’t aware of the work that went on in Bletchley Park during WWII, didn’t realise just how terrible the persecution of gay men in the UK in the post war period was, are inspired by this film to go and find out more; read the books, absorb the information all over the internet and gather the full facts that the film didn’t have the scope or capacity to share.
My Get Your Words Out word count for the week came in at 5,570 at the end of 14th January – which is just (300 words) over target. I’m thrilled that I’ve managed to keep the momentum going without the impetus of the twelve days fics that needed posting instantly. I’ve mostly been working on “As Nature Intended”, where I’ve managed to dig right into the next chapter and also sorted out quite a few kinks in the backstory, which is most pleasing as they were defintely causing some of the problems I was having with Sherlock’s reactions to certain things. I’ve also got a few more words out on the Original Novel™ which is nice.
I’m now in London with the rest of the week off, so I’m ending on a high note. I had a lovely dinner this evening with two of my Tolkien Society friends and before that (after the lovely people at the Apple Store fixed my phone) I visited the “Gay’s the Word” bookstore – which happens to be mere yards from the hotel I’m staying at and was where LGSM (if you’ve seen Pride you’ll know what I’m talking about) started life– bought some fab books and also a LGSM badge, which I’m very chuffed with:
I also took a few pics today, one of me in my room and several of the Thames after dark:
Tomorrow, and the rest of the weekend, will be spent seeing friends, visiting theatres and dressing up proper posh for the Sherlock Holmes Society of London Annual Dinner at the Houses of Parliament. Such is life – luckily!