Nicola Sturgeon says she 'instinctively recoils' from idea of 'cancelling' things
The First Minister said censorship should be a “last resort” and people should be “grown up enough” to navigate their differences.
She made the comments after being asked about Jerry Sadowitz, the controversial comedian whose Edinburgh Fringe show was cancelled amid a row over its content.
The Pleasance theatre said it was “extreme in its racism, sexism, homophobia and misogyny”.
Speaking during an on-stage conversation with the journalist Graham Spiers at the Edinburgh Fringe, Ms Sturgeon said: “I think one of the ways we should deal with the horrors and the challenges and the real difficulties that people here, at home, and globally are living with right now, is to laugh. I don’t think we laugh enough.
"Comedy is all about pushing the boundaries and taking really serious and often really controversial issues and trying to use laughter as a way of changing people’s perspectives.”
Ms Sturgeon said she did not see Mr Sadowitz’s show and so did not know whether it should have been cancelled.
But she added: “I generally, as somebody who, as you know, has got very strong opinions on all sorts of things, I generally and instinctively recoil from the idea of cancelling things or not publishing books or not stocking books in libraries, or anything like that.”
Ms Sturgeon said she felt “big discomfort” with things being censored.
She said: “We talk a lot about rights, and I am a passionate believer in freedom of expression, freedom of speech – all of that.
"In any society, though, there is always a balance of rights and responsibilities.”
She said there was “no absolutism in this”, adding: “We all have to responsibly balance these rights and how we exercise them.
"But I think, generally, censorship of anything, cancellation or anything like that should be a last resort, and we should be grown up enough to try to navigate our differences.”
The First Minister later said: “I think part of the problem with modern society is we've lost the ability to recognise that none of us agree 100 per cent with any other human being.”
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