Freedom of expression for whom? by Peter Singer

Elon Musk claims to be a “free speech absolutist”. But Twitter’s new owner may already recognize the need to distinguish between speeches that appeal to reason and evidence, or that seek to expand our empathy and understanding, in an effort to persuade us, and discourse that seeks to vilify others and stir up hatred against them. .

PRINCETON – How come a man who banned 83 million people from Twitter can freely use the platform post his messages denigrating women and proof the brutal attack on writer Salman Rushdie? I am referring to the leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, whose government kills young women who want to be able to show their hair in public.

For several years, Iranian-American activist Masih Alinejad has been call to get Khamenei banned from Twitter. Last month, together with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, she received the Oxi Courage Award 2022 at the American Institute of Peace. Opposition to Khamenei indeed requires courage, as the attack on Rushdie last August, which dates back to Fatwa of 1989 issued by Khamenei’s predecessor, Ayatollah Khomeini, sentencing Rushdie to death for blasphemy.

As recently as 2019, Khamenei called the verdict “solid and irrevocable», and the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs refused to blame Rushdie’s attacker, blaming Rushdie instead. Alinejad herself has been under FBI Protection since August, when police arrested and charged a man with plotting to kill her.

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