My grandparents came to Australia fleeing the terrors of Communism in Europe. My grandmother tells of her shock when the Communist Party of Australia was gaining political traction and wondered out loud why the Government didn’t ban the CPA. Her neighbour gave her wise counsel:
“Olga, if you ban these groups, they go underground, the consolidate, they grow in power. The only way to expose these groups is to allow them, to highlight them, to publicly critique and converse with them. Then the truth will come out and people will surely see the CPA for what they are”
In Australia, there is a lot of talk about a certain Act limiting free speech, especially in relation to Racial Discrimination. The ‘Left’ of politics are claiming that restrictions on free speech are required, lest differing groups are offended, insulted or miffed in some way. They claim that restrictions are required to prevent bigotry, racism and negative stereotyping. The ‘Right’ of politics claim that any restrictions on free speech is a slippery slope – legislation with noble intent used to muffle genuine free speech and freedom of expression.
Martin Luther King Jnr famously and excellently dreamed:
I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.
My thoughts? Like the counsel that was given my grandmother many moons ago, I think we should encourage free speech, not limit it. Working in the Public Service, I’ve found you can’t legislate against stupidity. If someone want’s to bang on about a religion, a lifestyle, a race, a thought, a brand of car, a football team, a cheese – what ever it is, let them bang on about it. If you don’t agree with it, speak up. Let’s bring out these ideas, challenge them openly.
I’m totally against discrimination – both positive and negative. I’ve written about my thoughts on racism in Australia and truly believe that Australian’s are welcoming and open, not ‘racist rednecks’ as some would suppose.
You can’t legislate against racism. You might be able to legislate against a behaviour, but not a thought, a motivation, a belief, a desire. Yeah, you might be able to stop someone from saying something terribly offensive like nigger, chinky-chonk or dune-coon. What you can’t stop is a bunch of disenfranchised group of people organising, petitioning, forming a voting block and punching back twice as hard when election time comes around.
If someone is being racist, call it out. If someone is the victim of racism, come to their aid. If someone is doing their people a dis-service by mis-representing them, correct them.
Limiting free speech limits critique and dialogue. Guess what? There will be idiots who abuse free speech, who will say terrible things, who will think terrible things. The last thing we want is for these ideas to go underground. We want to bring them to the light, shine a mirror on discrimination and racism and show it for the evil that it is.
We live in the age of information. Pretty much anyone these days can publish their views – on line, in print, standing on the street corner. Never before has there been such a free-flow of information, ideas and thoughts. We are constantly being challenged, informed, encouraged. Let’s not limit that precious flow of information.
Picture lifted from http://www.futurescopes.com/advice/104/why-men-dont-listen-women