Free Speech? Civilisation?
Are there no limits to delusion?
We have seen countless numbers of Western citizens in the last week or so proudly hold up a “Je Suis Charlie” sign to express their identity with Charlie Hebdo, the Parisian magazine whose cartoonists and others were mercilessly gunned down this month.
France and other so-called civilised countries have proclaimed the importance of free speech. It is a metaphysic, an idea perpetuated in mythological terms and thus given a unique self-existence.
The EU has numerous laws to protect groups of people with a certain orientation, cultures and races from so called ‘free speech.’ Laws of slander, defamation of character and libellous statements act as a curb on so-called free speech. As a social critic, I have four considerations for reflection.
1. Why do I write what I write.
2. What do I write
3. What is the impact I wish to make on the reader?
4. Will the view expressed contribute to our moving forward?
We have been told repeatedly in the last week in so many words that the “pen is mightier than the sword.” No, it isn’t.” Every ‘sword’ is the result of the ‘pen.’ A holder of the ‘pen’ designs the sword, or writes about the use of the sword, approves its use and authorises its infliction on others.
I have been hearing words of presidents and prime ministers about European civilisation. Oh dear. Oh dear.
Civilisation. What Civilisation
Are our leaders forgetting recent history? European civilisation launched two world wars and produced the Nazis. Twenty million died in the first world war. 50 million died in the second world war. US dropped two nuclear bombs on Japanese cities and killed two to three million Vietnamese. The US has invaded more than 60 countries since World War 2 and engineered the downfall of numerous non-capitalist governments with unbelievable levels of human suffering. NATO has its dirty finger prints in numerous countries. Is this civilisation?
We have slaughtered an uncountable number of Muslims in an Arab and African dozen countries in the past couple of decades. Unlike Vietnam, the military no longer counts the dead and maimed as it might upset people. The military does not allow the media any real access to operations. Heavens, we could not risk free speech for the Western masses. Is this civilisation?
The policy is to keep the journalists away from the ‘theatre’ of ‘collateral damage.’ (what an abuse of language in the name of free speech). After all, the journalists might want to write and record what they see. That must not happen. That would be free speech. Free speech is dangerous. People might start asking questions about what their government and military is doing in their name in Arab countries and elsewhere. We can’t have that happen!
Civilisation. What civilisation?
What about domestic problems and social problems in our civilised society? 50% of citizens of the EU are on some kind of daily medication.
Is this civilisation? Stress, depression, domestic violence, overcrowded prisons, obesity, lack of self-worth, crime, unloved children, poverty, loneliness, corporate tax avoidance ignoring the suffering of the poor, pornography, child abuse, drug addiction, alcoholism, collapse of families, slaughter of millions of animals for consumption and experiments, paedophilia, street rage, obsession with sex, craving for pleasure, unemployment, cancer, heart disease, junk food, obscene personal wealth, destruction of environment, gambling, debts, suicides, anti-Semitism, islamophobia, homophobia, racism and much more. Is this civilisation?
Are we so deluded believing in this nonsense of civilisation? These deeply rooted ills of society belong to secularism. Secularism proclaims civilisation. We can appreciate the healthy expressions of secular culture but secularism also represents brutal narcissism, a competitive madness, obscene levels of self-interest and neurotic ways of life.
Social survey show that happiness is down to a few minutes per person per day. Countless numbers live unhappy lives. Surveys show that the majority of people only have between one or two reliable friends. This is the secular civilisation that we uphold. Religion is no answer. Secularism and the republic uphold a pathology as problematic as any kind of institution anywhere.
I look at the drawings of the Prophet on covers of the Charlie Hebdo magazine found when we google IMAGES. Why am I reminded of the Nazi cartoons of the Jewish people in the 1930’s and later? Why are the drawings such a vulgar caricature?
Instead of this deluded claims to “free speech,” it would be a worthwhile step to develop ”right speech.”
Right speech brings mindfulness to our concerns. We look carefully at ourselves and our society. We endeavour to communicate honestly our concerns. We make use of the critique, the polemic and the skilful satire. We don’t ridicule people, their beliefs and sensitivities to promote and defend a metaphysical secular belief and to make a name for ourselves as being champions of free speech.
We don’t write and draw in the name of free expression that which is hurtful, vindictive and vulgar. What’s the point?
We remember the power of empathy and clarity with our concerns. We don’t set ourselves apart and superior.
We will start the journey together to become a civilised people when we develop right speech. Power, control, wealth and egotism shows no indication of civilisation.