I got into this a little bit with my post about the new Irish blasphemy laws, but I think it's something that needs further exploring, especially given the name of our site and the revolutionary nature of the original English Coffee House.
Gaiman's blog entry seems to have spawned from a question regarding his opinion on lolicon (a genre of manga and anime wherein childlike female characters are depicted in an erotic manner) and the banning thereof. What Gaiman points out is that regardless of your opinions on what is being said, depicted or printed, what it all boils down to is the right to free speech and free art. As he points out, the law can't be precise. It can't decide this is bad, this is good, this is passable.
The Law is a blunt instrument. It's not a scalpel. It's a club. If there is something you consider indefensible, and there is something you consider defensible, and the same laws can take them both out, you are going to find yourself defending the indefensible.I don't think it should be up to governments to decide what people can and can't say. I don't think there should be a can and can't say. Laws are made by people, people have opinions, feelings and gut reactions, so unless those things somehow all magically start meshing, some people are going to be offended by other people's art. The solution: ignore it, speak against it, post it on your blog and trash it. But silence it? Isn't that what they did to people who thought the earth was round?
Freedom to write, freedom to read, freedom to own material that you believe is worth defending means you're going to have to stand up for stuff you don't believe is worth defending.Personally, I think this lolicon stuff sounds a bit weird, and now that I know roughly what it is (I had to look it up), I'm not about to delve into it to see whether or not it's worth taking the time to defend its merrits as art. The point is, people should have the right to produce what they want*, regardless of who might be offended.
As soon as freedom of speech goes, we're out of a job.
*As long as no one (including animals) is hurt or exploited in the production.