[You can read the earlier Parts 1 and 2 here and here]

 

Washington said, (that’s George not Denzel), ‘If freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sleep to the slaughter’ – and that’s what’s happening, folks. 

Another US President, Harry S Truman, in 1950 said

‘Once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear’ 

Nothing new about all this then? Hard not to agree. 

So you don’t live in fear? When is the last time you voiced an opinion around the coffee machine at the office, or in the staff common room of your school or college or university that may have been not quite in the best politically correct words? Chances are, you wouldn’t. You have a family to look after, bills and a mortgage to pay. So, you play the game and say nothing. How many school, college or university students are now, given what happened to the lad in Scotland, are going to question or disagree with the teacher or lecturer? It’s a very slippery slope. 

‘But’ you may say, as I do, there must be some restraint, some responsibility, you can’t have people saying just what they want and when they want, some of what they say is inflammatory, indecent, obscene and morally repugnant. We were told as children ‘sticks and stones may hurt my bones, but words will never hurt me’ but we were also taught that the pen (words) are mightier than the sword. Words can be very hurtful, they can distress people, they can inflame passions, they can incite, they can motivate, ‘words are powerful: choose them well’, according to the Telegraph. Goodness who would have known that? 

Surely there has to be some responsibility for what you say and how you say it. We’ve seen political commentators, politicians, journalists and celebrities use the most offensive words and say the most outrageous things and display the most offensive and dubious behaviour. So, does the abuse of freedoms start from the top? 

Recently a woman in front of me in cafe queue was wearing a ‘T’ shirt emblazoned on the back in large letters, ‘I AM A (four letter expletive deleted) MACHINE’. Quite acceptable to walk around wearing a slogan like that then? Apparently so.

Reported in a regional newspaper this week is the story of a Taxi driver who was told to remove a small sticker on his vehicle which features both Polish British flags in unity because the sticker is, according to the District Council Licensing Authority “likely to cause tension, offence or division.” 

The latest freedom of speech and expression in the United States is to video yourself taking the top of a tub of ice cream in a supermarket, spitting on and licking the contents and then replacing the cap and returning it to the shelf, while making some inane political statement to ‘camera’. 

In France, half-naked women in videos shouting statements about equality on some demonstration or another … the same goes on here with some people videoed behaving in sexually suggestive way on demonstrations while expressing their right to this or that. The question then: are freedom of speech and expression going too far and to what end?

We have all seen senior political figures acting like children on their last day at school in the Commons. Expressing what? Their freedom to not set any sort of example, their freedom to illustrate their personal lack of control, their ability to use the language of the lowest common denominator. 

What sort of freedom is the freedom to say and do what you want when you want when it suits some expedient or just you?

This sort of out of control behaviour is displayed all too often on our roads, in public places, shops, theatres, cinemas, on a daily basis and by people of all ages. Even in Hospitals and Health Centres. 

Most, I think, do not condone this travesty of freedom. Rightly, in my view, they want some sort of control – but how? It would seem that you cannot rely on the individual to have any thought of the consequences of their words or even less thought of how this freedom, which is now abused, was gained. 

Do we want a country where ‘anything goes now’ on the one hand, or a country where dissent is stifled on the other, because political debate, any debate, has descended to the level of the saloon bar, where speech and thoughts are ‘moderated’ by the politically correct and permanently offended minority, or draconian measures enforced to contain out of control behaviour? Conversation and written comments moderated by what media and politicians say we should say or do while often doing the opposite themselves?

Enforcing respect, or political correctness, moderating satire or comedy, or moderating speech and thoughts is not freedom. But then a reading of many posts on various media platforms will soon show that commentators are often unable to moderate themselves.

So from the country of Shakespeare and Churchill to ‘clever’ satire without the wit, to expletive ridden comedy, to death threats and abuse in comments of anyone you don’t agree with (or more dangerously have been told you don’t agree with), to repressive laws and curtailment of expression and thought along with behaviour: it’s easy to imagine how and why that could happen.

Is this then the future, with no freedom of speech or freedom of anything? Be in no doubt: our freedoms are under attack. 

 

 

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