Monthly Archives: September 2011

Freedom of Speech (TM) Only $1400 a month

So, just for the sake of it, let’s assume you happen to be an editorialist at a major Australian newspaper. Let’s just say you have a radio program which is broadcast Melbourne wide. Let’s just say you’d just happened to also have a television show which is nationally broadcast. Let’s just say your name (to protect the proven guilty in a court of law) is Cyrus Grissom.

"Let's talk about Global Warming"

‘Cyrus’ was found guilty yesterday of racial discrimination. And as it turns out, ‘Cyrus’ doesn’t like it when the courts find him guilty of something, and subsequently believes that the courts have stepped on his ‘freedom of speech’.

Yep, that’s right. The guy who has a newspaper column, radio show and television show, apparently doesn’t have enough freedom of speech. 

It’s not the verdict that I want to talk about, nor is it the fact that a so-called ‘journalist’ believed they could get away with completely misrepresenting and ignoring the facts, and be able to do so in the name of ‘free speech’. No, what I want to talk about is that little phrase ‘free speech’ itself.

image courteousy of 'the antibogan'

Dig deeply enough into our social cesspools and you’ll find people using the term ‘freedom of speech’ to justify themselves beating on their fellow man. ‘Protect your rights’ they demand. And maybe there’s something in that, but the problem is, that the majority of these rump-fed runions start and end their defence of human rights right there. It’s as if the only right that is important, is the one where they protect people’s ability to open their mouths and spew whatever crap they verbally wish to spew. Some of them even go as far as to demand that a ‘bill of rights’ should be enshrined into Australian law, to ensure that they have that… one… single… right.

Is freedom of speech the be-all, and end all of rights? Is it fundamentally the most important right that we have? What actually is freedom of speech anyway?

Well, lets have a look at the last question there. What is freedom of speech?

So while we’re talking about human rights, we may as well start at the beginning. Let’s start at article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as set out by the united nations.

Article 19 of the UDHR

If you want to get ahead in your homework people, you can pop over to the UDHR document at any time.

So, alright. Everyone has the freedom of opinion and expression. And maybe that expression involves beating down a megaphone as loudly as you possibly can. Great. Something worth defending for sure. I just wish the people who were most often ‘defending’ their freedom of speech, weren’t doing so at the expense of everyone else’s rights. But more of that in a minute. I certainly don’t see anything in there that says ‘I can say whatever the hell I want, and no one can touch me’.

Truth be told, when people like ‘Cyrus’ declare their freedom of speech to be threatened, they tend to do so in order to stop or get in the way of a conflicting point of view. ‘Cyrus’s’ front page reply in a Melbourne tabloid newspaper is full of references to ‘Conservatives’, and how the judgement cast against him threatens the rights and the freedoms of other ‘conservatives’ in Australia. As much as this is absolute bullshit, it is also yet another stab at people who have opinions that differ from his. These are the same conservatives that cry out every time that Australia’s national broadcaster, the ‘ABC‘ presents facts and information that contradicts the beliefs of these conservatives. Australia’s peak conservative party, the ‘Liberal party of Australia‘ has on several occasions (while they were in power) attempted to chastise the national broadcaster for not presenting the news on the Iraq invasion from a point of view that they liked. They have also attempted to do this on several other issues that the broadcaster has attempted to tackle; Often making claims about bias that they can’t actually support. One one occasion recently, a member of the party that is in coalition with the Liberals, went as far as to claim that he had evidence that a story about the meat industry in Indonesia was a fraudulent beat-up.

Essentially these conservatives are trying to step on the rights of others, by aggressively using the media to drown out the voices of people they don’t agree with. Attempts to balance this out are frequently met with declarations that their rights of these conservatives are being trod on, amongst other threats to the lives and liberties to the people of Australia etc.

In the court hearing against ‘Cyrus’ it ended in the same old fashion. ‘Cyrus’ declared his freedom of speech had been void, and it was going to now be a dark day for Australian journalism. Reality is, that it put journalists on notice: DON’T MAKE UP RUBBISH ABOUT PEOPLE.

As a friend of mine put it, people like this believe that ‘freedom of speech’ simply absolves them of responsibility for their own actions. They believe that they have the right to say whatever they want, and it should never be held against them. This is interesting, because they usually use their ‘freedom of speech’ to say things that will in effect have some kind of impact on other people. Whether it be simply denting someone’s self esteem, to potentially rallying your countrymen to let you force at gunpoint members of a particular religion into a gas chamber, this abuse of freedom of speech has real world consequences. To egotistically believe that you have rights above that of everyone else when you declare your freedom of speech is a sign that you clearly have absolutely no threats to your personal freedoms at all. And this is damaging to our community.

It seems that freedom of speech is only preserved by those that can afford to do so, and for the people that they like. ‘Cyrus’ for example makes a pretty living out of his ‘freedom of speech’, and has done well for him self by mining this human rights resource.

Perhaps this is time to remind some people that there are other rights out there, other than just the right to open your obese mouth. For example:

Just before Article 19. What was that about 'Muslims' you were saying?

Freedom of speech has most often been used lately to victimise Muslims in our community. As absurd as many religions may be, people have the right to practice these religions.

Alright, so you can use your freedom of speech to vent your rage at these people, right?

Article 2.

Yep… alright, so again they are protected, but you still can say anything you want about them, can’t you?

Okay…

Degrading? Hang on a minute…. they’re not ‘degrading anyone’ with their freedom of speech. So what if they cop a bit of a dignity injury.

Dignity… who needs dignity.

It’s hard to ignore the phrase ‘equal dignity and rights’ here. Degrading people’s dignity, and using freedom of speech to batter their rights really runs against this. And this is just article 1, the introduction.

I didn’t see ‘Cyrus’ or any of our ‘conservative’ friends showing any interesting in preserving any of this. How often have you heard them using their freedom of speech to cry out for refugees to be locked up, for muslims to be removed from our society or forced to obey laws. ‘Cyrus’ certainly didn’t protect the honour and reputation of the people he besmirched in his editorial, nor did he actually use facts to do so, but rather he relied on his ‘freedom of speech’. Perhaps he should have looked at what other freedoms people were entitled to first.

But hey… freedom of speech is more important than all the others, right? Because… it says so……..

Oh, not it doesn’t… it actually says in article 30, that you can’t use these rights to violate the other rights of people.

There’s no confusion here. Rights are there to protect people. Freedom of speech these days only seems to be ‘threatened’ when people start to push for the other rights to be protected. Reality is, that in Australia freedom of speech is never considered threatened when we are trying to move forward and achieve things for the greater good. It only appears to be threatened at times when people are abusing this right to degrade, regress and damage our society and it’s citizenry. Be weary of people declaring their freedom of speech being violated. Chances are you’re being manipulated.


Where the dinosaurs roam

So you’re an aspiring political party that’s trying to ride in on the back of a social issue that’s frequently making the media.

Okay.

So set up a party, and base most, if not all of your policies around this one issue.

Yep, I’m with you still

So you then tell everybody that you’re right wing and conservative.

Um. Alright.

So you then fail in several elections sequentially.

Well, no surprises

So you feel you need more media coverage.

Yep, that makes sense.

So what do you do?

Well, hello there yourself!

Naturally, you go with a small group of your friends and protest at the biggest collective of individuals that are unlikely to vote for you, that you could find. Further more it is unlikely that anyone that would vote for you would actually be there to see it. Oh yeah, and you wear t-shirts that belittles your assumed beliefs about the people you expect find there; even though it has nothing to do with what they are protesting, or what you are protesting.

So how does that work?

Welcome to the land of the dinosaurs. This is the cul-de-sac of evolution. The place where undeveloped brains and bodies come to die. A place where looking back to the heyday your species is all that you have left.

It probably isn’t fair to pick on this particular political group, as the landscape is littered with also-rans that have all tried to be the little man screaming ‘What about me’?! Only to disappoint by running the same contradictory ‘Lets keep everything the same to change things’.

People look for one of two things from their politicians. They either want inspiration and ideas when things are going bad, or growth and wealth when things are going good. However political groups like those picture above, simple represent the fringe of our society that is dying off as it is unable to adapt to a world which changes rapidly from day to day, and will for the rest of eternity. It’s hard to play the leader when you’re the kind of person that reckons we should all just stand still, or look back at where we came from.

But something unusual has happened, and a great social irony has occurred. One of the most significant changes to our society of the past 15 years has actually helped these fringe groups to not only survive, but thrive in a way. Technological advancement has actually breathed new life into the lives of the luddites. The internet revolution has allowed these people to actually contact and communicate with each other. Even though they have failed to adapt to a changing world, they have been able to group together and unify thanks to this technology, even if they complain on there about how the other changes this technology had influenced in their lives.

The Dinosaurs again have a place to live. They can breathe, complain and moan in cyberspace. They can relive the heyday again and again. They can even pass on their stagnant ideals on to future generations, ensuring that the antiquated ideas that they inherited off their own usually uneducated parents, can still be carried on in a world where education and information is more accessible than ever. The gene pool is potentially brought alive again, by ensuring those that have lost the survival of the fittest, are still able to find like minded genomes in order to be able to replicate. Move over Jurassic park, we don’t need frog’s genes and eggs, we just need the internet to bring the dinosaurs back.

Groups like the one pictured above often run online internet forums and groups which have become a safe haven for these evolutionary dead-ends. They aren’t hard to find, but they are usually aggressively named to attract attention, and tend to be filled with poorly written, poorly thought out dross. But it is this dross that gives them life, by giving them purpose. It allows them to once again believe that they have a purpose and a place in society, rather than being the isolated dead skin on the fringes. Most importantly they feel that they are doing something, by actually doing nothing. It may appear to be something like a rat spinning a wheel in a cage, but even that could potentially power a lightbulb.

In the next few months I’ll discuss some of the dinosaur groups that are dwelling in online communities. I’ve already talked about the Australian T.E.A. Party, but theres plenty more specimens to look at in the weird and whacky internet Jurassic park.

So till then. TTFN.

"Darling, I hope it's not a Labor voter"