Thursday, October 21, 2010

Lecture at the Istanbul Conference on Freedom of Speech

By Noam Chomsky, ZNet, Oct 20, 2010

The title of one of our earlier sessions was Cogito, “I think.” That may serve as a useful reminder that even more fundamental than the right of free expression is the right to think. And that has not gone unchallenged. Right here for example. I suppose the most famous case is that of Ismail Besikci, who has endured many years in prison on the charge of having committed “thought crimes.” And even worse, for having dared to put his thoughts into words, in his documentation of crimes against the Kurds in Syria, Iran, Iraq — and finally Turkey, the unpardonable offense.

I am sure you know the facts better than I do, so I will not review them. If this brave and honorable man had been suffering this ordeal in Russia, or Iran after the overthrow of the Shah, or some other enemy state, he would be internationally known and honored, and outrage about the savagery of his tormentors would know no bounds. But not in this case. One reason is that among his crimes is to have refused a $10,000 prize by the U.S. Fund for Free Expression in protest against Washington’s support for Turkish repression. Respectable people understand that this is a topic that “it wouldn’t do” to mention, to borrow from Orwell’s unpublished introduction to Animal Farm, which I mentioned yesterday...

Continues >>
Post a Comment