The Death of Free Speech
There are lots of times when we do not like what other people say, particularly if they say stuff about us, our good friends, religion, work, politics, or what we believe about God.
I know it’s a bit later than George Orwell’s gloomy prediction, and 1984 has come and long gone, but are we moving to the point where, not only have we got to act right, but we must also speak right. I am referring to being right according to what is PC. But more than that, we have to think right too! So, it may be late by thirty plus years, but has the Orwellian “Big Brother” world finally arrived?
There is a growing trend that says if I don’t agree with some issue, or if my different opinion is not PC, or even if I just don’t like it, then I must not be allowed to say it. Our universities are stopping people speaking because they don’t like the view point of some of their students or staff. I probably agree that a lot of what is being said is horrible, and distasteful; but doesn’t that suggest that the next stage is to demand that not only is one not allowed to say what one thinks, but that one must not even think differently, and then, if things escalate to stage three, the echelons of power in universities would probably have to kill the Thinking person who indulged in the atrocity of disagreeing with them.
There are many countries where one is not allowed to speak about the current politicians if it is detrimental, the reigning monarchs of the state defiantly, and definitely not the religion or religious personalities or leaders – that would be “blasphemy” and one would end up in prison or dead.
I do think it somewhat strange that a god has to be defended by humans? I am very sure that God is quite able to look after Himself. He does not need me, or anybody else to defend Him. And of course, He said, when being crucified, “Father forgive them. They don’t know what they are doing.” Of course, He was saying things that should not be said, at least to the leaders of religion, and/or religious views.
There are many things that in today’s world we are not allowed to say we disagree with. We are not allowed to disagree with same sex marriage. We are not allowed to disagree with homosexuality. And, we are not allowed to agree with people who are perceived to be “non PC.” Of course, I am sure that we should not be allowed to incite violence, or put people in danger, but does that mean I have to be seen to agree with them even if I don’t?
Many commentators are saying that what is happening in our “Free Speech” western democracy, where free speech is being limited, or in some places, not allowed at all, people are having to learn how to lie. Lie to the pollsters as to which way they will vote. Vote in such a way that, in the secrecy of the polling booth, they can express that which they were denied being able to say in the public forum.
My question is: If my arguments are so good in any particular area, does that mean that the only way my view cannot be presented is that I must be silenced – or even killed if necessary. That is not a nice world to live in. I am speaking from a position where people have written to me, telling me that if they had any power they would make sure my view was silenced .
I guess therefore my argument must be correct and the opposition so weak that the only way to win the argument or discussion is to silence any opposite view.
Edited by Keith Lannon
Was very widespread in the 16th century, and in fact for many was carried over into the 17th century. The process was orchestrated by governments mainly to keep people in their place. So in England you had to wear a woolly hat if you were an apprentice, if you did not do so you could be arrested. If you were not at the level of Knight or Baron, then you could be arrested if you dared to wear purple.
The whole Idea was to keep a ‘moral line’ so you needed to be able to quickly tell a milkmaid from a countess, if you did not then the whole of society would unravel.
Greenwich, 15 June 1574, 16 Elizabeth I
Wherefore her majesty willeth and straightly commandeth all manner of persons in all places within 12 days after the publication of this present proclamation to reform their apparel according to the tenor of certain articles and clauses taken out of the said statutes and with some moderations annexed to this proclamation, upon pain of her highness’s indignation, and punishment for their contempts, and such other pains as in the said several statutes be expressed.
None shall wear
Any cloth of gold, tissue, nor fur of sables: except duchesses, marquises, and countesses in their gowns, kirtles, partlets, and sleeves; cloth of gold, silver, tinseled satin, silk, or cloth mixed or embroidered with gold or silver or pearl, saving silk mixed with gold or silver in linings of cowls, partlets, and sleeves: except all degrees above viscountesses, and viscountesses, baronesses, and other personages of like degrees in their kirtles and sleeves.
Velvet (crimson, carnation); furs (black genets, lucerns); embroidery or passment lace of gold or silver: except all degrees above mentioned the wives of knights of the Garter and of the Privy Council, the ladies and gentlewomen of the privy chamber and bedchamber, and maids of honour.
None shall wear any velvet in gowns, furs of leopards, embroidery of silk: except the degrees and persons above mentioned the wives of barons’ sons, or of knights.
Cowls, sleeves, partlets, and linings, trimmed with spangles or pearls of gold, silver, or pearl; cowls of gold or silver, or of silk mixed with gold or silver: except the degrees and persons above mentioned; and trimmed with pearl, none under the degree of baroness or like degrees.
Enameled chains, buttons, aglets, and borders: except the degrees before mentioned.
Satin, damask, or tufted taffeta in gowns, kirtles, or velvet in kirtles; fur whereof the kind groweth not within the Queen’s dominions, except foins, grey genets, bodge, and wolf: except the degrees and persons above mentioned, or the wives of those that may dispend £100 by the year and so valued in the subsidy book.
Gowns of silk grosgrain, doubled sarcenet, camlet, or taffeta, or kirtles of satin or damask: except the degrees and persons above mentioned, and the wives of the sons and heirs of knights, and the daughters of knights, and of such as may dispend 300 marks by the year so valued ut supra, and the wives of those that may dispend £40 by the year.
And so on and so on…
So what France has tried to do with legislation on Burkini’s and other countries are trying to do in terms of legislating for dress, particularly woman’s dress is really nothing new.
It’s all about control, but let’s be upfront and know that this kind of legislation, power, instructions, do not just come from the hands of government – religions also use their power to try and control dress, again I say particularly woman’s dress. It’s about power, control and I think male chauvinism. I did read also that the Burkini had been condemned by religious authority too, as you could distinguish the outline of the female form – oh help!
Such laws that control our dress are facile, and actually should be resisted; but let us not think as has been widely published that the woman are free to chose how they dress, that too is a facile view. Also do not think that it is just Islam, or the French government that tries to control such things. My wife comes from a particular Christian group that also tried to list such laws as to what to wear and particularly what goes on your head – what is it with female heads, maybe it’s me but I just don’t get the problem?
Anyway coming from a background of working in the fashion industry, when I met my wife, and supplied clothes the family definitely labelled me as the horror that had turned their daughter into Jezebel, for those who know that meaning. There’s that moral prerogative again got to keep those morals right and its woman’s apparel that will do it isn’t it.
So back to that simplistic statement that the women who want to wear the Burkini should be free to do so. What does that ‘free’ mean? Now I do meet Muslim woman who tell me that they wear it out of religious choice. Some maybe are doing so, but I really don’t think the majority are.
I have travelled to the Middle East many times and watched groups of giggling young woman on my flight, and just before landing going to the toilets and coming back to their seat in a full Burka, western clothes disappearing.
I watched the same procession in the airport facility too; a lot of young ladies just disappear and out comes women in black. Are they free or what?
Let me tell you a story, I was in Kenya working with some churches, a young 16 year old helped me with translation, and came around with me. After working with me for a week he turned to me one day and said Adrian, are you telling me I can be a Christian without wearing a suit?
I was surprised, saying I haven’t mentioned clothing, but although I had not mentioned it I had noticed he was always dressed in a suit and tie, while I was my scruffy self. I then asked him, did your church tell you, you had to wear a suit, he thought for a bit and then said no. I then said let me come with you to your church, I did and as I expected I was the only one without suit and tie. Freedom to wear what you would like, I am not sure that I would call that freedom.
Of course in many Islamic countries they would go one step further and you would be at the mercy of the clothing police; who enforce Islamic dress-codes.
I once went to visit a house, a young Muslim lady was there having her hair cut, as I walked in she grabbed her head covering quickly covering her head, I asked in a long conversation what was the idea of being so covered in the presence of a male, her answer was well men need protection as they cannot control themselves, I am sorry but I am insulted, and I think the majority of men would be too (or should be)
So is it true that the males have no control? Which if that’s what is believed to be true then of course males have no responsibility regarding controlling one’s self. It can’t be done!
Again if that is the belief I am more insulted. What this kind of thinking does it transfers all responsibility to the woman actually that means those deciding on the women’s covering are the ones allowing men to shirk the responsibility of controlling their desires and behaviours. I do not for one minute believe that men cannot control themselves but I do believe that allowing both men and women to believe that men are not capable of controlling themselves then the responsibility for sexual propriety lies solely with the women, making men innocent of any sexual crime; Which is why I guess raped woman in some countries are then imprisoned for allowing themselves to be raped. Are we free yet?
So freedom, most of the time I think not, rather even if only symbolic the male chauvinism is the controlling power, and I think that control needs to be undermined if it’s coming from the national government of a country or the religious power house, it’s wrong.
Not the freedom that I call freedom.
NB.A great book on Fashion if you can get it is: Fashion and Style By Mike Starkey
Edited by Gena Areola
I have just read one of our Independent schools ‘A’ level student’s research paper on the Berlin wall. It made me think about the whole subject of walls, particularly as, as I write walls and barbered wire are very much in the news.
Supposedly walls should keep us warm and safe, at least if you have roof on your house as well, however as we look though history walls have also had other uses and somehow get into our psyche, and it seems to me many times ending up with negative connotation. In fact it seems to me that each time you see walls, proposed walls, or building of walls there is the feeling of failure, loss, or the fact that our world is in a bad place.
I guess the biggest wall of all is the Great Wall of China, built to keep our others who might attack which are why all of the walls seemed to have been built, on the basis we are all right and we don’t want you in or out in some cases so let’s build a wall. In a sense a great symbol of failure,as it demonstrates that you need to be controlled, either by being held in or kept out. What it cannot do is control thinking, though those that build the walls, I think, really would like to be able to do that.
So let me just site a few walls to show what I mean. Berlin wall of course was built to keep East Germans from running away to West Berlin, and thus loosing it key workers and intelligencer; So really a failure of an ideological way of thinking. Then maybe Hadrian’s Wall, built by the Romans, surly that must represent the failureof the Romans to control the Scottish Nation, or to conquer it so a wall was built to keep the Picts as the Romans called them out. The last standing division or wall in Europe is in Cyprus showing us the failure of politics, religion and ethnicity to get on and work together for peoples best good.
The fact that walls are a strong sign of failure the world continues to build them, demonstrating to all who can see how useless we are at getting things right, so between 1950 and 2010 the world has built some 50 admissions of failure. In such places as Israel, India, Pakistan, Georgia and South Ossetia, Mexico and the USA a fence at the moment, but listening to the politics of the USA in 2016 it seems as though this failure need to be reinforced by a proper wall! Then there is India and Bangladesh, North and South Korea, Spain & Morocco even in Northern Ireland ‘Peace Walls’ still celebrate the fact that people fail to get on. There is a sand wall built between in the Western Sahara to seal out Morocco. Shall I go on? These are just a selection of the world’s walls. The border between Botswana and Zimbabwe is separated by an electrified fence. Malaysia and Thailand are separated by a wall, as are Saudi Arabia and Iraq, Iran and Iraq, and Kuwait and Iraq.
And now in 2016 European countries again want to put up walls offailure in Bulgaria, in Greece, certainly the UK has spent millions on its own wall of failure on French territory, to keep out those from the so called Calais Jungle. I would have thought that the world and its leaders would be embarrassed to keep using such high profile symbols of their failure, but it seems not.
It seems that the current Pope thinks that building Bridges is a much better idea than building walls, maybe he has a point. I know that as a follower of Jesus that should makes us generous rather than selfish and if we want to build failure walls because we perceive people as our enemies, the Jesus instruction is to Love your enemies. Walls don’t work.
Refugees: the current issues – is there a solution? I was privileged to have been able to speak at the United Nations on the subject recently. The reality is that this is the worst refugee crisis since World War Two; actually, in regards of displacement and movement of people, it’s worse. According to UNHCR there are currently 59.5 million displaced people in the world at the moment. In the UK there is a lot of anti-immigration press, telling us how many “illegal people” there are and the fact that they are taking jobs, school places, and homes. This has created a great deal of tension and distrust. Many of the figures quoted are not true, and when you look at real figures from reliable sources you find that the story is very different.
There is another story too, that is not being talked about much and that is one that needs to be brought to Europe’s attention. In Europe, UK, Germany, and Italy particularly, there is a need for young workers who pay tax. The reason being that in the UK and other European countries the indigenous populations are getting older. Most of us have things like state pensions, paid from taxes. When these were originally introduced with a male retirement age of 65 and female retirement age of 60, life expectancy was between 68 and 69, very different to today predictions. The current life expectancy in the UK is heading towards 100 years. Who is going to pay for all those retired people? Whose taxes will fund it? We need the refugees’ help to do that. Politicians don’t have very much to say about this.
Fences on Cliff Tops
Often times when we make new laws or change old ones, we are not thinking of the consequences unseen up the road. We would do well to do so; even when those decisions or laws are made with the best intentions in mind.
Early on in the UK, a law was brought in to make tenancy of rented housing more secure. The good reason for it was that some people were being put out of their rented house for very little good reason. However, the unforeseen consequences were that for a period it actually created homelessness. People were reluctant to give others a room in their house if they thought they would turn out to be a bad tenant. That of course was not the intention, but that was what happened.
I wonder, as I look at recent changes in legislation in the USA and the UK, if we are heading for unforeseen circumstances that we will not like. Of course, from a legislation point of view it may have been done for good reasons like equality and freedom, but are we really sure of the outcomes?
I don’t know, but I do wonder what our new freedom so called, our new equality so called, the removal of fences if you will; I wonder what they will bring up the road. I wonder if they will have good or bad effects on our society.