Thursday, 18 September 2008

Free speech for the dumb

In the spirit of healthy debate and "teaching the controversy", a Turkish court has banned internet users from viewing the official Richard Dawkins website after a Muslim creationist claimed its contents were defamatory and blasphemous.

It's amazing how people like this can exist in the modern world.

I guess Dawkins must get called blasphemous a lot, considering his somewhat radical views and reputation as Darwin's enforcer. But I don't think he'd ever advocate banning, gagging or silencing his critics.

In reality though it seems that Adnan Oktar thinks that Dawkins has insulted him in comments made on forums and blogs. Check out Dawkins' "insults".

Istanbul's second criminal court of peace banned the site earlier this month on the grounds that it "violated" Oktar's personality. I've had a look at the story and subsequent comments and I'm not really sure about the allegations.

True, a lot of people mention how Oktar has been found guilty of creating an illegal organisation, and a lot of people speculate about the actions of that organisation, including rape and extortion. He is appealing the verdict. Does this mean he should be treated as innocent until proven guilty, or is he just doing what everyone does when convicted - appeal to slow down the legal process?

Oktar, a household name in Turkey, has used hundreds of books, pamphlets and DVDS to contest Darwin's theory of evolution.

In 2006 his publishers sent out 10,000 copies of the Atlas of Creation, a lavish 800-page rejection of evolution.

Dawkins, one of the recipients, described the book as "preposterous". On his website the British biologist and popular science writer said he was at "a loss to reconcile the expensive and glossy production values of this book with the 'breathtaking inanity' of the content."

It is the third time Oktar and his associates have succeeded in blocking sites in Turkey.

In August 2007 Oktar persuaded a court to block access to His lawyers argued that blogs on contained libelous material that the company was unwilling to remove.

Last April, he made a libel complaint about Google Groups, which was subsequently blocked.

He failed to ban Dawkins' book The God Delusion in Turkey after a court rejected his claims that it insulted religion.

So, free speech for the dumb anyone?

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