Thursday, 2 April 2015

Political Correctness is the Opponent of Free Speech.

The World leaders march in Paris to support free speech, then go home and pass laws to censor the internet, flog a blogger for offensive remarks and condemn Justin Bieber’s heartfelt apology for behaving like a dickhead over the past eighteen months. How did everyone forget what they were marching for so quickly?

Free speech gets supported when it’s speech powerful people agree with. That right changes from country to country, from person to person and from generation to generation, so is it any wonder we find it hard to know where to draw the line and make a stand? There are no ground rules except to rely on a personal moral compass.

In a supermarket I saw kids making fun of an old woman - I was so shocked I stepped in.
“This woman and her generation gave us this country so show some respect.” 
The kids gave me the finger and ran off, but the woman thanked me. I felt good about myself and about my belief that we still have much to protect. Then she asked me to get her a jar off the top shelf. 
“It’s the one with the Ching Chong on the label,” she said. 

I didn’t say anything. I just grabbed the jar. 

Political correctness has taught us how to behave when we’re being watched, but none of the really big problems in our world are caused by people making decisions when they're being watched. That’s why free speech and full disclosure are so important. That’s why we have to look at the past to understand our world and ourselves - even if we discover we come from racist, sexist, homophobic stock.

It’s not entirely the older generation’s fault. You only learn what you’re taught. That’s why contradictions between what people say and what people do matter so much. Every action is a lesson. When Jeremy Clarkson and others who court controversy to gain higher celebrity are excused and defended for their offensive gaffs we as a society feign intolerance to attitudes that the pay checks and popularity of those same people clearly show are wide spread. Are we patching over cracks by not having the discussion or are we teaching people how to behave when they're being watched?    

Political correctness is the opponent of free speech. Genuine free speech means fighting for people you hate to have the right to say things you disagree with. That’s such a difficult right to protect. It is the pinnacle of our highest ideals; the fight for free speech is a fight to give every person in the world the right to be an arsehole. In those terms we’re doing well.

The attack on Charlie Ebdoe was about this exact idea. Gunman stormed in because they believed the images in the magazine were offensive. I think murdering people as your initial complaint is a little drastic – unless it’s a phone company – then no jury in the world would convict you. But there are other ways of dealing with offensive images in magazines – like putting them in plastic bags. No one dies, no matter how many fourteen year old boys claim you can die from that sort of frustration.

The line that Charlie Ebdoe crossed was to show a picture of the Prophet Mohammad. Pictures of tits and cocks, they get covered in plastic. Pictures of Mohammad, they get covered in blood. You risk gunman bursting in and killing people if you show this picture in public.

I’m in favour of free speech, but not against people with guns.

The craziest part is the picture in question was a caricature. When you see a picture of Tony Abbott, our Australian Prime Minister, with huge ears, lizard like features and that evil, smug little smile, the first thing you think is – he’s going to be easy to do a caricature of. 

But a caricature is humorous, it’s satire, it’s trying to make a point through comedy.

Unfortunately, terrorists aren’t known for their sense of humour. Al Qaeda don’t get farce. Isis don’t understand satire, Westborough Baptist Church don’t appreciate the double entendre. Neo Nazis do love a good knock knock, but with them it’s more, “Knock Knock, WE KNOW YOU’RE IN THERE!”

The lesson from Charlie Ebdoe is respect the Prophet Mohammad. If you’re having trouble remembering that, here’s a mnemonic device to help - It’s a no go on the Mo ho-ho.

Our world's problems are so enormous and numerous that it seems nothing an individual can do would ever help. Our leaders call for fairness, but allow 2% of the population to control 50% of the wealth. They want everyone to have affordable health care, but drug companies mark up prices making lifesaving drugs out of reach to many who need them, governments allow torture by renaming it enhanced interrogation and Brittany continues to lip-synch.

In every case the words don’t match the actions.

Is it fair that Bill Gates earns one billion dollars a year, yet a man in India, exactly the same age, earns twenty dollars a year? I think it is to be honest. I’ve used that Indian guy’s software, it doesn’t work at all. 

The internet was the great hope of our generation; an age of shared information. Instead its online innovators have become the new power brokers - Google, Apple, Facebook, ISIS. They’re all the same.

I have a theory that ISIS is the creation of people fed up with the Apple terms and conditions contract. Of all the terrorist groups, ISIS have the most likes. That’s why kids are joining. 

Isis are the first terrorist group to have a marketing department. They’re the Pepsi of terrorism – the choice of a new generation. 

The latest thing ISIS are doing is moving from online into radio and TV. ISIS will have their own Channel of Terror – reality TV all day long. 

The reason we can’t make any real changes as a concerned community is because only a very few people have the power to do so. The 99% can sit on a sidewalk and chant all they want, but the people with real power will never advocate significant change because the ramifications of that change are largely unknown and may unsettle their golden economic throwns.

Look at banks. They caused the financial crisis and even that devastating meltdown hasn't changed how they do business. If you don’t have enough money in your account they now charge you a fee - a fee for being poor. Governments did the same thing two hundred years ago until a people's revolt made them realise how unfair and unpopular it was, but we let banks do whatever they want today by allowing their spin to exist without challenge.  

When I was in Primary school a man came from the bank and gave us all money boxes in the shape of his bank. He said if you put fifty cents into this every week, you’ll be amazed what you end up with. I did. I put fifty cents in every week and when I turned sixteen I couldn’t wait any longer. I opened it up – there was no money, just a statement saying I was overdrawn eight dollars and a legal notice demanding their building back.

It’s no longer just banks. Google and Apple avoid billions in taxes and it’s legal. The world leaders march to protect our rights and then take them away from us. How can we be anything but confused?

Kings and Queens used to have all the power and they’d hand it down to their kids. Now it’s corporations and rich family dynasties. Kim Jong Un took over from Kim Jong IL and Rupert Murdoch is passing on News Corp to his kids – so nothing’s changed in the last two thousand years.

Even Jesus only got into his line of work because of his dad.

God:    Jesus! Where are you going, my son?

Jesus:  Oh, I was thinking of going down to Nazareth College of the Arts.They’re having an open day. I thought I’d have a look at their modern dance course.

God:     I’m all for you having interests outside of work, but you need a real job.

Jesus: Dad, we’ve talked about this before, I’m not interested in creating universes.

God:    Then start with something small, something simple – try saving  the world?

Doesn't that make more sense? Our problems are because God left his son in charge? And the reason Jesus hasn’t been back since is because it’s taken all this time for God to debrief him through all his poor calls of judgement.

God:    Where did you say you put Palestine? 

Jesus:  To be honest, I wasn't really paying attention.

God:     Why did you tell them to ask and it will be given? Why would you say that? And this has to be a misprint. You would never have said, “Man shall not live by bread alone” – to people in a desert? You come off sounding like Marie Antoinette!  

One thing I’m sure of is that no one person is responsible for the complex issues we now face as a race. Osama Bin Laden organised planes to fly into the Twin Towers. America led the world in saying we will never allow such an outrage to happen on this scale again - so the drone program was created where smaller planes fly into smaller buildings.    

Osama, Al Qaeda, ISIS and the Kardashians are all intolerable forms of modern terrorism. It’s just coincidence they all come from the Middle East. It shouldn’t matter where or how terror happens, Middle East, Paris, US sanctioned torture or the Lindt Cafe, Sydney – it appalls us. Anything that can be done to stop it must be done. If you can't get a seat on the UN then why not take a seat in your darkened room hooked up to the internet and troll them at their own game? 

Edward Snowden proved the internet is still our best chance for free speech and free speech can change things. If we all speak up online and become the right sort of internet trolls, we can meme these people for life.

The threat of terrorism is being used by our leaders to get unpopular laws passed. They make people scared about safety and then trade personal freedom to get their way – and they’ve been doing that for decades.

“The people can always be brought to the bidding of their leaders. All you have to do is tell them they’re in danger of being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger.” Herman Goering said that.

And that’s why I’m confused, because I know I didn’t vote for Herman Goering, but somehow I’ve ended up with his policies.

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