Category Archives: Freedom

Concerning freedom of speech, in theory and practice (it can be restricted by law or by oneself)

A Defense

Here is the defense (savunma) of Ayşe Berkman before the 36th Heavy Penalty Court (Ağır Ceza Mahkemesi) of Istanbul, January 10, 2019, against the charge of making propaganda for a terrorist organization (terör örgütü propagandası yapmak).

Crowd of mostly smiling people outside a courtroom

The crowd from the courtroom when the session was over.
From a tweet of the Peace Academics

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Antitheses

The Antitheses are the six parallel teachings, delivered by Jesus of Nazareth in the Sermon on the Mount, as recounted in Chapter 5 of the Gospel According to St Matthew, starting at verse 21. I summarize:

  1. Do not kill people; do not even get angry with them.
  2. Do not commit adultery; do not even fantasize about it.
  3. In divorce, follow the established procedure; do not even divorce.
  4. Do not forswear yourself; do not even swear.
  5. Keep retribution commensurate with the crime; do not even seek retribution.
  6. Love your neighbor; love even your enemy.

For better or worse, these are part of the cultural heritage of many of us; they are at least a commentary on the cultural heritage (the Mosaic Law) of more of us.

I write now specifically, because I think the Antitheses can illustrate or illuminate some contemporary philosophical concerns, Continue reading

An Indictment

Free speech continues to matter for this blog. Here in Turkey, the “Academics for Peace” are signers of a petition calling for an end to what the petition calls a “deliberate and planned massacre.” On July 17, 2018, three more of these Academics were given suspended sentences of fifteen months for “propagandizing for a terrorist organization.” There is a story on this by Tansu Pişkin on Bianet. A suspended sentence means the convicted person is on probation for some years. When I met up recently with a Peace Academic who had already been given a suspended sentence, he laughed it off.

The bill of indictment (iddianame) for each Peace Academic is 14 pages long. Continue reading

Community

Concerning a proposal (not by me) to make a “strategic withdrawal” from public life

What in the 1960s was called a commune is now an intentional community. I lived in one of these in the mid-1990s, when I was in graduate school.

We were six persons, and when one of us needed to be replaced, we advertised ourselves as a cooperative vegetarian group-house. Continue reading

Freedom to Listen

“It’s a free country, so shut up!”

On Thursday, February 16 of this year (2017), at Bosphorus University, a talk on the subject of freedom of speech was given by a Guardian columnist who was a history professor at Oxford. This was Timothy Garton Ash, who observed that freedom of speech and of the press had been severely curtailed in Turkey. For a defender of the regime, the accusation might be belied by the speaker’s freedom to make it. Academics can still come from abroad and give their critical talks. However, as Professor Garton Ash detailed, many Turkish academics have been fired from their positions; many journalists have been imprisoned; other journalists cannot get their articles published. Continue reading

NL XIV: “Reason”

Index to this series

Summary. Practical reason is the support of one intention by another; theoretical, one proposition by another. Reasoning is thus always “motivated reasoning”: we engage in it to relieve the distress of uncertainty. Reason is primarily practical, only secondarily theoretical; and the reason for saying this is the persistence of anthropomorphism in theoretical reasoning: by the Law of Primitive Survivals in Chapter IX, we tend to think even of inanimate objects as forming intentions the way we do.

My reason for adding this summary of Chapter XIV of Collingwood’s New Leviathan on January 29, 2019, is in part my having just read a provocative Guardian column by Oliver Burkeman on motivated reasoning, and in part the tortuousness of my own (blog) article on the chapter.

Rogier van der Weyden (Netherlandish, 1399/1400-1464), Portrait of a Lady, c. 1460, oil on panel, Andrew W. Mellon Collection
Rogier van der Weyden (Netherlandish, 1399/1400–1464),
Portrait of a Lady, c. 1460, oil on panel
National Gallery of Art, Washington; Andrew W. Mellon Collection

Context

There was a rumor that Collingwood had become a communist. According to David Boucher, editor of the revised (1992) edition of The New Leviathan, the rumor was one of the “many reasons why [that book] failed to attract the acclaim which had been afforded Collingwood’s other major works.” Continue reading

35th Istanbul Film Festival, 2016, part 3

Part 1 | Part 2

Between the composing of parts 1 and 2 of this account came the death of Prince, whose work had inspired Rain the Color of Blue with a Little Red in It. Between the composing of parts 2 and 3 came the release of the four Turkish peace activists, whose imprisonment had given poignancy to The Demons and The Music of Strangers. There is a certain absurdity associated with each event.

Photo of book, Shakyamuni Buddha

Nikkyô Niwano, Shakyamuni Buddha: A Narrative Biography (Tokyo: Kôsei Publishing Co., 1980; fifth printing, 1989)

On the cover, a modern copy by Ryûsen Miyahara, owned by Risshô Kôsei-kai, of The Nirvana of the Buddha, painted in 1086 and owned by temple Kongôbu-ji, Wakayama Prefecture, Japan


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Free Sevan Nişanyan

Note added July 17, 2018: Sevan Nişanyan is now free, in the sense of having escaped from prison—an open prison—and from Turkey. The story is told well in an article by Lauren Frayer on NPR, September 28, 2017. Alev Scott visited Sevan on the Greek island of Samos and wrote about it in the Times Literary Supplement, July 4, 2018; the article is behind a paywall, but there’s a free version. The friends and colleagues mentioned at the beginning of my own essay are not currently under detention, though trials of them and others continue. My essay remains as an expression of the value of freedom of speech.

We want freedom for our friends and colleagues who are being held in pre-trial detention for their supposed support of terrorism through advocating peace.

İlyastepe, Şirince, May 2013

İlyastepe, Şirince, May 2013

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On trial for pacifism

This is about the 1918 trial of American radical political cartoonist Art Young and others for conspiracy and interfering with enlistment. Most of the article is a quotation of Young’s own words. The words provide some perspective on today’s struggle for freedom of speech.

Capitalism, Art Young, private collection (reproduced in Harper's, Jan 2016, p. 64)

Capitalism, Art Young, private collection (reproduced in Harper’s, Jan 2016, p. 64)

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Academic Freedom

Yesterday (March 24, 2016) was the first day of the sixth Models and Groups Istanbul meeting. There were participants from the Middle East, Europe, and America. Kıvanç Ersoy was to speak about his own mathematics. He could not speak, because he was in prison. He, Esra Mungan, and Muzaffer Kaya were in prison, because the three of them had publicly insisted that the government of Turkey make peace in the southeast of the country. Absurd, but true. Continue reading