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Aholes, Phuketwan and Free Speech

Aholes, Phuketwan and Free Speech

Monday, January 12, 2015
"We should not stop being ourselves because of this kind of attack.'' Australian PM, Tony Abbott

''Hope your students are more open minded. Asshole.'' New York Times editor, Dean Baquet

''Journalism can never be silent: that is its greatest virtue and its greatest fault.'' Henry Grunwald

PHUKET: At Phuketwan we have had a degree of experience lately with the limits of free speech. This past week, others have died for their own belief in what those words mean.

In the face of being sued for criminal defamation by the Royal Thai Navy, Phuketwan took the same approach as the Australian Prime Minister: "We should not stop being ourselves because of this kind of attack.''

Perhaps, though, the Australian government should show some consistency in its approach to attacks on free speech.

Some attacks, it seems, call for instant responses. Others can be overlooked, especially when staying on the right side of a military government becomes more important.

The second quote, from the editor of the New York Times, more clearly reflects the viewpoint of the editor of Phuketwan.

Editors should not be afraid to challenge the views of others when those views are plainly and abjectly wrong.

As it happens, the person being tagged an ''Asshole'' was Marc Cooper, a journalism professor at University of Southern California.

He said the decision of the New York Times not to republish cartoons from the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo was ''absolute cowardice.''

What kind of a response did he expect?

Phuketwan accepts that there are limits to free speech and that free speech should not include insulting the beliefs of others for no good reason. Free speech has to be tempered by consideration and tolerance.

The more radical beliefs of the journalism professor, though, clearly deserve a response and, given the culture both participants share, ''Hope your students are more open minded. Asshole.'' was exactly what the editor of Phuketwan would have said in the same situation.

Phuketwan wouldn't have used the same kind of strong language in response to the confusion of principles implied in the Australian Prime Minister's comment, even though we may have thought it.

Actually, we're not even sure we're part of the Australian PM's culture any more.

Australians who choose to live abroad are basically cut adrift from the values of their homeland by a government that picks and chooses its levels of support.

As the PM has made plain, universal principles can be overlooked when it suits.

And that leaves us with just the third quote, the one by Henry Grunwald, which to us this week is by far the most memorable: ''Journalism can never be silent: that is its greatest virtue and its greatest fault.''


Comments have been disabled for this article.


Agree with you totally .
Abbott will be a one term wonder. He talks through his cake hole then does something totally opposite . It defies logic that someone can be elected then be so stupid .
The Labor Party are the biggest pack of idiots walking around but will be re elected not because they are any good though .

Posted by P Win on January 12, 2015 12:14

Editor Comment:

We don't really have an opinion either way about Mr Abbott politically, P Win, or politicians generally. But he appears unwilling to support a universal principle except when it suits him.


Rather ironic considering the amount of censorship that Phuket Wan has applied to comments from readers who disagree with the editor's views over the years. You reap what you sow.

Posted by Ralph Green on January 12, 2015 13:37

Editor Comment:

Nothing untoward or ironic about it, Ralph. Submissions to newspapers from readers have always been treated on their merits. Opinions from all sides of any argument are welcome - provided they can be supported by cogent facts and logic. Quoting false information and hoary cliches doesn't count. Add value and you might surprise yourself.



Posted by chris on January 12, 2015 14:41

Editor Comment:

Your comments are filled with misinformation, lack logic and add no value, chris. Please take your own advice: ''man up, and move on.''


You guys are pathetic, you seriously cant compare the right to free speech with the sad cynical jaded ramblings I read on these pages every week. I'm surprised the Ed posts half of the rubbish you dish up as supposed comment. You know how to tell when a plane load of expats has flown into Phuket? The engine is shut down but you can still hear the whining.

Posted by pete59 on January 13, 2015 06:39


Old ex Rhodesian joke Pete59. The whinning that continues comes from the new arrivals. In South Africa we called them " When we's."
They always whinned, When we were back in Rhodies etc etc etc.

Posted by Duncan B on January 13, 2015 07:46



Posted by James on January 13, 2015 09:12

Editor Comment:

Dementia setting in, James?

Friday August 7, 2020
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