January 19, 2008

Article 301

Follow-up to Freedom of Speech from Jimmy K's Eclectica

It's been a year and fuck all has changed. The stupid thing is Article 301 is actually self-fulfilling: to restrict free speech in such an unnecessary and unabashedly totalitarian manner is itself a crime against Turkishness. The sooner it's repealed, the sooner Turkey can come to terms with its past, artistically, journalistically and perhaps even historically. I'm not necessarily opposed to nationalism, but it has to be kept in context, kept in check. The irony is the murderer of Hrant Dink, a self-proclaimed nationalist, has damaged the reputation of Turkey in the same way Article 301 does every time the tired law is trotted out for another ridiculous trial against someone with the courage to criticise or deal with a contentious topic. The Turkish public might stay sedated forever in their bubble of ludicrous belief, where there's no violence in Islam, where Attaturk couldn't even be considered to be gay, where there could be no genocide against Armenians - without artists, journalists, historians, people able to push the envelope and ask the questions that are currently off-limits, there seems little hope of popping the bubble. It's not particular to Turks - all publics are. "A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals". I keep this little nugget of wisdom from Agent K (MIB) to remind myself why people vote for George Bush, or listen to Busted, or watch Big Brother etc. But occasionally, someone with the courage to ask the right questions will get the public to examine itself. It can happen other ways; I wonder if Jade Goody's ignorant (but not actually racist) remarks and the subsequent reaction caused a lot of the viewers to look at themselves and reassess their actions. I'd like to think so...

But maybe I'm just being naive.


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