There’s an article in the Guardian today where Simon Jenkins lays into people for supporting Pussy Riot when they wouldn’t support the same thing in their own country. Well, that’s the gist of it and he’s right when it comes to the UK, US and other governments – but he’s so damn wrong when it comes to individuals. One sentence says “to treat the Pussy Riot gesture as a glorious stand for artistic liberty is like praising Johnny Rotten, who did similar things, as the Voltaire of our day.” I couldn’t let that one pass.
Well I’m pretty sure that Simon Jenkins is better educated than me – after all he went to the independent Mill Hill school (incidentally founded in the location where it remains ‘because of "dangers both physical and moral, awaiting youth while passing through the streets of a large, crowded and corrupt city") and then on to Oxford, later to edit the Times amongst others and latterly knighted. He likes churches too; perhaps it’s the cathedral gig that particularly upset him? It’s therefore understandable and rather sad that this establishment product doesn’t get what is happening to Pussy Riot and what happened to some extent to Lydon. However I would expect him to know his Voltaire better.
So a few (admittedly selective) quotations from Voltaire
It is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong
Judge a man by his questions rather than his answers
Think for yourself and let others enjoy the privilege to do so too
And that famous chestnut :
I disapprove of what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it
And I think that these put Voltaire and Lydon firmly in the same camp, Pussy Riot too.
Sometimes I read the newspapers just to realise that I live in a very different world….and I’m grateful for that at least.
It says here…