5 October 2010

Respecting freedom of speech

Back in May 2010, the artist Lars Vilks gave a talk in my university (Uppsala) about free speech. He is a well-known artist who provokes religious sentiment by depicting, though drawings and video, certain aspects of christianity and islam in a non-conventional way. During his talk he was assaulted by muslim activists:

The lecture was interrupted and Vilks had to leave. A few days later, his house was attacked by arsonists. Lars Vilks keeps receiving death threats.

A few months after the unfinished lecture, the Philosophy department of Uppsala university decided to invite Lars Vilks to finish his lecture. The whole rationale about the invitation can be found here. Notice that the university does allow for protests, as long as the protests respect the law of the country. There will be a question-answer period and everyone who wishes to object Lars Vilks' work can do so. Demonstrations are also possible and legal.

What is not acceptable is physical violence and interruption of the talk. From what I have seen, I don't like Vilks' work, because I find it against my artistic taste. But I don't care what he does as long as he doesn't force me to watch his art or pay for it. And he doesn't. Nobody should take issue with Vilks' talk and let the guy say what he wants to say.

Based on the emails we receive however, I'm afraid there is going to be a lot of tumult tomorrow. Since the auditorium is next to the restaurant, we will be searched by police if we go for lunch. The state is paying money to protect its citizens from a small minority who, because they feel offended, want to cause trouble.

The philosophy department of Uppsala university states:
It is a serious matter indeed for a university lecture to be stopped by violence, regardless of the content of the opinions that provoked these reactions. It is incompatible with the fundamental values that democracy rests on. In order to assert these values, we are inviting him back.

So let him speak and, simply, don't go to his talk. Or, if you go and happen to disagree, do say so, do write about him, do draw cartoons depicting him like a dog--if you so wish, do organize a demonstration. But do not physically assault him


  1. Looking forward to your account of the aftermath. Perhaps a video camera for citizen journalism's sake?

  2. This is exactly why there is absolutely nothing illegal nor morally wrong with blowing up these subhuman religionists & their homes.
    They LOVE it. It's fun for them. If they hate free speech so much, then they should be tortured & killed for their assinine belief.

    There is NO difference between a "prisoner" versus a "prisoner of war". Too many so-called "rationalists" (Penn & Teller) have no clue what rationality or logic is.
    They never did anything hard, such as earn a PhD in math, and actually have to prove a theorem.
    Being mentally inferior non-math PhDs, they cannot comprehend the difference between fighting for a HARD cause, such as freeing human prisoners from current prisons
    by bombing courthouses & prisons & federal buildings or going into another country to do it, versus TRIVIAL causes, such as banning speech you don't like.

    A patriotic hero like Dr Theodore Kaczynski, a Green anarchist, continues to suffer unjustly as a prisoner of war, held hostage in American prisons.
    He deserves to be honored just like any paid government soldier does. Unjustly, some government soldiers get paid, when they shouldn't, since sometimes they fight on the wrong side of a war.

    The bottom line is, unless one can mathematically prove from the Schrodinger wave equation on up for ALL the atoms involved that setting fire to a person or their house has any
    "negative" effects to mentally inferior subhumans such as christians & muslims & other religionists, there is NO logical reason to assume that it is "wrong" or "illegal".

    And human law, judicial system, FBI, judges, cops, etc is the LAST thing in the world to determine absolute truth of cause and effect.



What measure theory is about

It's about counting, but when things get too large.
Put otherwise, it's about addition of positive numbers, but when these numbers are far too many.

The principle of dynamic programming

max_{x,y} [f(x) + g(x,y)] = max_x [f(x) + max_y g(x,y)]

The bottom line

Nuestras horas son minutos cuando esperamos saber y siglos cuando sabemos lo que se puede aprender.
(Our hours are minutes when we wait to learn and centuries when we know what is to be learnt.) --António Machado

Αγεωμέτρητος μηδείς εισίτω.
(Those who do not know geometry may not enter.) --Plato

Sapere Aude! Habe Muth, dich deines eigenen Verstandes zu bedienen!
(Dare to know! Have courage to use your own reason!) --Kant