Thursday, February 12, 2009

Freedom of Speech...

A couple of things have made me consider the freedom of speech within the UK today.

First off, we have Dutch politician Geert Wilders being banned from the UK.

We then have the story of Jasmine Cain and her so called "religious intolerance".

Both have distrubed me... because it seems the norm nowadays to silence people we don't agree with or at least discredit them. What also disturbs me is that Jasmine's mother is under disciplinary procedings because she spoke out against the situation and sought help from her church (someone from her church received her email and alerted the Head of Jasmine's school).

I believe in freedom of speech. I see it as a fundamental pillar in our society. We all have the right to believe/think what we want and to express what we believe/think in a manner that is respectful to others.

Please note that I say respectful to others... hatred is not acceptable.

Just as much as we should be free to express our opinion, we should have the freedom to challenge the beliefs/opinions of others. It is through debate and consensus... again, in a manner that is respectful to others.

Here I feel is the key to why I have been upset with these two random stories... where is the debate and where is the respect?

I have no desire for Geert Wilders' film to be shown but neither am I afraid of it. I believe Islam has been tarred by the brush of a few madmen and he is jumping on this with both feet... but then again, I can't fully form my opinion of his error because I haven't seen the film - the UK Government have, in essence, quashed any debate and have, singlehandedly, given the Far Right another martyr... another hero silenced by "the man".

Crazy ideas are shown up in the light of debate. That's the way to defeat the kind of nonsense and hate being spouted today. We need to educate and inform with evidence, not silence people because we don't agree with them.

As for Jasmine... what get's me is the comment from her Head:
"This is not an issue about Christianity, it is about religious intolerance."
No, sorry, this is about Christianity because it is the religion you are claiming to be intolerant. If you don't believe in the things Jasmine is speaking of then say so... say to the student she spoke to that this is one belief of which there are many. Do not tar a wee lassie with the "intolerant" brush just because you don't agree with her. Show her some respect... and don't silence her. Use her opinion as a point of discussion and talk through the various perspectives.

Oh and why is her parent being disciplined? For speaking out? For having concern for her child and expressing that to people who she thought could be trusted? That for me is the true disgrace here.

Personally, a we'an shouldn't be talking about hell... its out of context and is a scary idea. People shouldn't be scared into an understanding of God... people should be loved for who they are. In this regard, the wee lassie was wrong for what she said... but her treatment... the way she's been handled is an absolute disgrace.

Freedom of speech, it would seem, is only working for those people who wish to control the speech of others. Political correctness, when done in a respectful manner, does work... but in the way it is being exercised just now... it is a disgrace.

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