Free to Speak

Trigger Warnings – Some strong language/use of racial slur (No, I’m not being racist, I’m remarking on a racist attitude, don’t worry)

Hello readers. First off, I’m going to start with a little blog update for those of you not following me on Facebook (which you totally should do by the way, I’ll put the link at the end of the article) but basically to make this blog a little more engaging for my readers and a bit easier to follow, I might start doing themed days on here and on my Facebook page – Throwback Thursday immediately springs to mind to roll out classic gems, Totally Obscure Tuesday sounds like a fun way for me to blog about stuff I like whilst giving people a chance to give it a miss or expand their horizons but basically that’s all that comes to mind so far, too rigid a schedule limits the room for creativity and since I am not psychic, I can’t predict when blog worthy news will crop up and so if I dedicate every Friday to posts about films, I might miss my chance to write a topical post on something a bit more compelling. News for everyone though, as the year is almost out I plan to do 2014 in review, a brief look back at the biggest issues of the year and how this year went for me (Spoiler alert, kind of a weird year). With that out of the way, let’s move onto the topic for today shall we?

A bar owner made headlines in Australia today for displaying a sign saying ‘No Muslims’ outside of his bar, the chalkboard notice making a joke about how Jesus turned water into wine and how his bartenders have a similarly magical power, they turn money into beer (Contain your laughter, please, I know that’s true shining originality) but the sign ended with a little side note of ‘No Muslims’ and in the space of 24 hours, the bar received 200 complaints. Naturally, after such a prompt and aggressive backlash, the owner scrubbed the message from the board and had to make a public apology… or at least, he was supposed to.

‘While the great majority are in support of free speech and are of patriotic sentiment, we have fielded too many abusive and threatening calls. For this I apologise to my family. I sincerely hope I don’t end up sanitising my every thought to the robotic degree that is evident in commercial life around us. The story, if there is one, is in the reaction, not the action.’

Does that sound like an apology to you? Granted, he apologised to his family for making them deal with the backlash of his poor taste in humour but has he apologised to anyone offended by the joke? No. The mayor of the town, Longreach, in which the bar is established, seemed embarrassed by this man’s faux-pas and tried to stress that the town as a whole isn’t that ignorant, which is fair enough, it’s not fair to judge the town by one person. My issue is how the blame for this crass joke, in the owner’s mind, is the public, the people of Longreach are at fault for not finding his attempt at humour humorous and he’s more worried about political correctness than actually upsetting people – this is bad business and this is how to be a generally shitty person.

Firstly, let me explain once again that free speech does not mean say anything, suffer no consequences, such a system should not exist. Free speech is the right to speak and censorship is the act of subverting expression for the benefit of the common good, censorship is putting a black box over naked genitalia on TV before the watershed because it’s generally considered in everyone’s interests not to bombard children with images of penises, censorship is NOT telling someone to retract an offensive statement. Society is much more diverse than just white Christian people now so it’s hard to establish a core “This is the norm” group but us white folks, we have this tendency to think that’s still us and if we have to stop making jokes about Asians or Muslims or black people, we’re being forced into political correctness when actually what’s happening is someone is telling you to get your head out of your ass and think about someone who isn’t like you and how they might feel. A society based upon empathy would be fantastic but it’s still a long way off, ‘political correctness’ is just the effort to move closer to that form of society, instead of this common attitude of ‘Well I don’t see a problem here, it must be you’ that prevails amongst the ignorant.

As for patriotic sentiment, maybe he missed the news story that in the very same country as his bar, strangers rendezvoused with anonymous Muslim people to defend them on their commutes to and from wherever they needed to be, the patriotic sentiment of Australia aspires to be ‘All friends until proven otherwise’, not ‘We’re alright Jack, fuck you’. Of course, Australia still has the predominant male culture of cold beer, shirtless man mountains and barbecues of pure testosterone whilst women stand around in skimpy bikinis but this is a stereotype, it’s not the defining trait and even so, these stereotypical views of Australians are never portrayed as hateful and as the news recently proved, provided with a choice of retaliation or benevolence, Sydney chose the latter, Australia is trying to be the country that says ‘Maybe if we stopped treating strangers like terrorists, we’d have a better time of it?’ and that worked, it was beautiful, we were all struck with awe. So what patriotic sentiment is there in belittling a religion? Patriotism is a love of your country, if you hate change and see your country as superior, that’s beyond patriotism, that’s jingoism. Root for the home team, sure, but if you go to away games just to start riots and you beat the snot out of visitors to your stadium, do the world a favour and stop turning up at the stadium, go back to your cave, troll.

I know it’s not easy, responsibility never is but you can’t say your right to free speech is being taken from you if when you say something, it has negative consequences, the right to free speech is the right to speak, everything comes at a price. The right to bear arms is a huge thing for America but guess what? If you shoot someone, you still have to explain yourself as to why you shot them and if you respond with “It’s my right to have a gun”, they’ll respond “And if you use that gun to bring harm to others, naturally, legal consequences must follow”. Basically it boils down to having to think before you speak and this seems to be massively troublesome to a lot of us – Thinking? We didn’t do that back in the olden days, I could call a black man a gollywog with no qualms back in my day, why has it changed? It changed. Adjust. Try to see the world through the eyes of another once in a while.

Hello again readers, I hope you enjoyed that article. As always, please like, comment and share. If you want, you can now follow me on Facebook, the link will be down below for you – tell me what you think of what I post, what you want to see and do you think themed days would be a good idea for the blog? I do so love good feedback but I find I get very little of it so constructive comments are appreciated!

http://www.facebook.com/oldmanwolfeofficial

Advertisements

Solidarity in Sydney

Trigger Warnings – Death, Sexual Assault

I have done a lot of posts revolving around Britain but the biggest issue in the news at the moment is the tragic resolution of the hostage situation in Sydney. For those of you who don’t know, just yesterday a lone gunman took a cafe full of customers hostage and the crisis lasted sixteen hours before commandos stormed the building and found three dead bodies – one of a lawyer, one of the manager and the body of the gunman himself. The gunman, Man Haron Monis, was a self-proclaimed spiritual healer but was also charged with over 50 counts of sexual assault in his time and was in the news last year for writing offensive letters to the families of dead soldiers. Monis said the charges made against him in the past were for “political reasons” and it is believed this attack was a last-ditch attempt by Monis to grab the attention of those seeking his imprisonment to negotiate having all charges made against him dropped. Truly, a tragic story, one that opens the floor to discussion and so here I am.

The Police Commissioner on the case said that this was the work of an individual, no bomb was planted anywhere, the guy had no associates, nobody at the cafe called him saying it was a good time to turn up and he walked in alone with a weapon, not pulling up with a van full of machete swinging buddies. Considering the man’s origin as an Iranian and being a Muslim, it is important we remember that this was just one madman and not an act of religious martyrdom by extremists. I think back to the beheading of the soldier in public that happened here a few years ago, an issue I wrote an article on which you can find with a little nosing around, and many many people stood by the opinion it was an elaborate terror plot and that these extremists were just a small example of a horribly corrupt religion. Of course, common sense prevailed for most of us but it’s no surprise to us by now that the moment you hear “An Iranian/Pakistani man killed…”, you then hear various colourful expletives being exchanged about Muslims and where they belong, usually being either in their own country or in the ground.

Extremism corrupts the world’s view of anything, mainly because extremism is news worthy whereas “Well I’m kinda more partial to this opinion” is pretty dull. You wouldn’t read a news article saying “MAN LEAVES CHURCH SERVICE BECAUSE HE FELT IT CONFLICTED WITH HIS OWN BELIEFS”, you’d instead read “MAN BURNS DOWN CHURCH, CALLING IT A DEN OF SIN”. The Muslim faith is a peaceful religion, it is not a religion that encourages violence because no organised religion would do such a thing, it’s preposterous and even if the texts say this or that the Bible has passages saying slavery and selling your daughter on the market are fine but I’ve never met a Christian doing one of the above. Religion does define a person but not in the sense that a religion compels people to commit murder or take hostages, that’s the person’s decision, these are the acts of individuals or like-minded radicals, there is nothing in any sacred text that says you can make the world a better place by holding up cafes with guns.

However, this is not all doom and gloom because in the wake of this tragedy, concerns over a growing intolerance towards the Muslim faith or those of Middle-Eastern origin has sparked the #illridewithyou initiative. Basically, if you are likely to be the target of harassment for your faith or such like, you can take to Twitter or Facebook and there will be tons of people posting information about their commutes and how they are willing to travel together with you to ward off people wanting to give you grief. The people of Sydney, in general certainly, have used social media to express their desire to be ‘bigger than this’, to not judge an entire race or religion by the actions of one man and it is not often I get to say this on my blog but this is an act of pure brilliance and humanity that makes me beam with delight. As a man who tries to be accepting of all walks of life, I always fear news pieces like yesterday will set the world back a step in being tolerant of all classes and creeds but the spirit of Australia isn’t one of judging a stranger, more a spirit of camaraderie, the idea that a stranger is a friend until they give you reason to think otherwise. Obviously I am generalising but it’s a positive image and it is the impression one gets when you read the tweets these people have put up on the public domain.

What happened was a tragedy, a truly horrific thing to have happened and my heart goes out to those affected by what has happened, especially the friends and relatives of the deceased. However, the people of Sydney had two paths to choose, the understandable low road of hatred and retaliation or the harder to walk but much more righteous high road and they chose the latter, it is a beautiful thing to behold. We are so quick to judge and rise to anger but rising even higher is a difficult feat that these people are uniting together to achieve as a community. The world can now watch and learn from the example set by a few good people – revenge begets a cycle of violence and anger that only escalates but if you see this incident and you see it is an isolated case of one lone madman, you can move on, you can be so much more and you can forge a brighter future in which we see people as people, not merely an extension of their background.

Thank you Sydney, for restoring our faith in the kindness of humanity in the face of tragedy.