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Editorial: no taboo topics

PHOTO: Urmas Nemvalts

The views expressed at Public Broadcasting (ERR) heads meeting that while discussing drug policy we should not give the floor to those favouring legalization of cannabis corresponds not to the balanced debate principle ERR should stand for. Understandably, the ERR leaders feel their responsibility. Understandably, the sense of responsibility contradicts ERR enhancing behaviour damaging to health. But this will not mean that a debate birthed in society may be limited to views of one side alone. 

True: the cannabis legalisation topic mainly concerns the interest group alone and will not become a large issue in society. Also true: hooking up with the topic, media will indirectly help keep it up. And also true: we have not managed to solve the problems with tobacco and alcohol policy, and we have no time or energy to deal with new addiction problems. But all of this will not mean that once the issue has been raised, it could not be debated in a balanced manner.

ERR heads are right, of course: in Estonia, cannabis is banned by law. However, there’s two details perhaps missed here. Firstly, the use is banned, not discussion. Secondly: when not allowed to debate illegal issues, how can Estonian legislation develop? Even in the last couple of years, we have several examples of public debate over things not legal. Not every time it leads to legalisation. But every time there has been the right to debate.

Time to remember what has been attributed to Voltaire: «I do not approve of what you are saying, but I will fight till death to defend your tight to say it.» Vital also the context of the statement.

In 1758, Helvétius published «De l'Esprit» which brought a crisis to the entire project of Enlightenment dear to Voltaire. The famous «Encyclopaedia» was halted, lots of books were burned including Voltaire’s. What’s worse: the book that triggered that was poor and confusing, later considered a chief catastrophe of the era. Why is it important? That Voltaire thought it important to protect the publication of the book just the same.

Today, who will remember what Helvétius wrote. Voltaire’s words are remembered, whatever he actually said. In this battle, let ERR play Voltaire.

Cartoon: «So what makes me worse so as to be banned?» «Perhaps that we are quietly in a heap and blab not...»