Howdy partners, and a happy new year!
Fear not, I will have some pics from the hols in NZ up as soon as I get them downloaded in my camera (my fella was the official event photographer).
I mainly do posts about something that I have been thinking about a lot, or something that I have had to get my head around. They might come off as a bit navel-gazing, particularly in comparison to some of the other blogs around, but it takes all types, 'eh?
There has certainly been a lot to think about in the news recently. Big events like the Sydney Siege and the Paris shootings give me pause for thought.
Most recently, I have been thinking about the nature of free speech. This is because there have been a few things in the news that have raised this as an issue. There was the horrendous massacre of civilians at a satirical newspaper. Perhaps less prominent is the call to ban anti-vaccine advocate Sheri Tenpenny from speaking in Australia.
Now I will say from the outset that I abhor violence and lawlessness as seen in Paris, and I am staunchly pro vaccination.
I have seen the upsurge in support for the writers of the French publication, we are all Charlie etc. Their right to free speech has been vigorously defended throughout the world. In almost the same breath, there has been a push to deny Sheri Tenpenny a platform in Australia. Her camp have been claiming that they are being denied free speech. Technically, they are right. This dissonance had made me bit uncomfortable. Freedom of speech is not absolute, but relative.
It is one thing to provide an honest and balanced report, for example, the goings on of a corrupt government. This is clearly in the interests of the community, and will increase the odds that the baddies will be brought to justice. Free Peter Greste!
Is it actually in the interests of the community to gravely insult somebody's religion? I really can't see how any good can come of that. In fact, such a thing would be banned in Australia (section 18C of the Racial discrimination act). In Australia, we don't actually have the right to be bigots, despite what George Brandis says. Cartoons depicting insulting images of women, homosexuals, the obese or any other minority group would have been met with shrill calls for their removal, and rightly so.
The cartoons were absolutely not justification for brutal murder. But those cartoons will reasonably offend a section of the population. This occurs in the setting of increasing division within many European Societies - a rise in both ultra-nationalist groups, and conversely in extremist religious groups. It is easy to see how things might deteriorate. And then the media responds by cranking things up a notch, in the spirit of "not bowing down to terrorists". And so it goes.
I take Fr. Rod's point of view on this issue. As Einstein said, a problem cannot be solved with the same consciousness that created it. To tackle this form of extremism, I would be interested in talking with a prominent moderate member of the faith. Tolerance and understanding will in the long term go a much longer way than escalation of anger and hatred.
With the right to free speech comes responsibility. We must remember who we might offend, and what the reasonably foreseeable consequences of that might be. It's not about bowing down, it's about being a good citizen. The consequence of Sherri Tenpenny being allowed to talk in Australia is that some poor kid might not get vaccinated and die of a preventable disease. In this case her right to free speech is outweighed by the need for public health.
Anyway thankyou for reading this far. It's good to get that off my chest.
What has been vexing you? Rant away, or link to a news article.