By William Markiewicz
The other night I watched a local TV debate concerning violence in the media, where the guest from the USA, member of an organization against TV violence, opposed the Canadian TV representative who defended the right to free expression. The Canadian had to yield before an audience which, in the majority, supported the US guest.
Controlled freedom, no matter how benevolent, is always lobotomized freedom. The requirement that each creativity should be morally correct and socially constructive is social realism, destructive in itself. Life in society, to be fulfilling, must contain some risk. The 'good' and 'bad' must rub shoulders so that everybody has an opportunity to express themselves. We must believe in the existence of a collective discerning intelligence which excludes necessity for censorship. Otherwise we give up on humanity as an intelligent species.
My pro-freedom position is coloured by my experience of Europe, particularly France. The most flourishing illustrated magazines there, such as l'Echo des Savanes, Actuel, Charlie-Hebdo, Hara-Kiri ... are full of features inspired by the most outrageous ideas and events. The more forbidden, the more shocking the subject, the better it is. So, no taboos. They obviously prosper from it and as far as I know, French society has not become more criminal than before the magazines became a fact of life, perhaps even less. Readers distance themselves with a kind of transparent armour from what they see or read. All this is for them an unreal universe which -- perhaps -- serves to defuse their inner tensions.
This isn't the only kind of material the magazines present, otherwise they wouldn't enjoy such popularity. People don't like to be tickled on the surface only. This is just part of the ensemble, in which the courageous and talented reporters penetrate and disclose more or less dark secrets of societies throughout the world, facts of science, etc. We discuss politically correct morality and religion while they present a flamboyant intellectual volcano. The reader is not only informed, but his/her brain is constantly provoked to work on the topics. In reading them, one senses explosive youth, brilliant minds and can't help laughing while admiring the outrageous cartoons.
Couldn't they do the same without the "gutter?" I don't think so. The human mind may need this vitriolic corrosive atmosphere to remain inquiet and expand fully. In order to keep really moving we may need this spasmodic laughter-through-tears. All the attempts to cleanse the atmosphere through politically correct censorship anaesthetize and put us into a deep coma which leads us to an antiseptic grave.