While I recognize the name of British novelist Ian McEwan, I have to admit that I’ve not read his work that I can recall. (Anyone who has been dubbed “Ian Macabre” may be worth a look, say I.)
However, Mr. McEwan scored some points with me in his commencement address at Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA. He chose as his topic a defense of free expression, and noted such defenses are in short supply these days, particularly in places where the defense should be strongest — you know, like a college or university, or a writers’ organization. For National Review, Mark Antonio Wright reports:
McEwan directly confronted the problem of a country rooted in the tradition of free expression under the First Amendment meekly submitting to what he called “bi-polar thinking” — the eagerness of some to “not side with Charlie Hebdo because it might seem as if we’re endorsing George Bush’s War on Terror.”
[…] He argued that the time to “remember your Voltaire” is precisely when confronted with scathing speech that “might not be to your taste” and said he was disappointed that “so many authors could not stand with courageous fellow writers and artists at a time of tragedy.”
But it’s the punch line that is our QotD. Take it away, Mr. McEwen:
[B]eing offended is not to be confused with a state of grace — it’s the occasional price we all pay for living in an open society.
Thank you, sir. (The entire speech may be seen at the NR link.)