Freedom of Suppression

Jan, 2009 piece

In a liberal democracy you assume you have the right to express yourself in words, ideas and in art in any way that you choose. This is simply an assumption however. All too often we have to self censor or suffer the consequences of speaking our minds.

Today more so than ever, simple symbols offend people in ways that they really should not. Take for example the swastika, this vile emblem of a horrid era in history is now at times a banned emblem. It is true that the flag and symbol of Nazi Germany can invoke those terrible memories of persecution and the very worse of 20th century suffering. But should it be banned and those that use it to express their ideologies be suppressed ?

Yet to many a far worse and more sinister symbol is the horrid red star of communism, or the hammer and sickle of the Soviet Union. Two emblems which in the past, even before the rise of the Nazi’s, and to this very day has suppressed, persecuted, tortured and murdered millions. Surpassing those dreaded Nazi’s.

To many parts of Asia, the Rising Sun of Japan, once the proud battle flag of the Japanese Empire, flew high as thousands were slaughtered and imprisoned. Yet this flag is still an emblem of pride for the Japanese and does not in any way create outcry when flown here in the West. Not as bad as the Swastika some may say, well tell that to the survivors of Nanking or the Baatan death march.

Though why does one find themselves suffering a fine or persecution should they tastelessly fly the Swastika (in some ‘free’ societies)? Yet go unnoticed if they wear the hammer and sickle or the red star of communism?

It seems that the left wing ‘anti-establishment’ establishment types that love to define themselves by wearing such emblems really miss the point as to what these symbols have represented in the past. Or worse they know very well just how horrid the atrocities committed under them were. They overlook the fact that millions died before the tyranny of the Soviet Union and Mao’s China. Getting into a debate over which was worse is morbidly academic, but suppressing the freedom to fly one and then completely overlooking the significance of the other is terribly ignorant.

To wear a Mao Tse Tung or Che Guevara face on ones shirt is a trendy thing to do these days, and has often been the fashion of those that have an ill thought out agenda or ideology. Those people who take advantage of a lax and liberal society by celebrating men, who stood to suppress the very freedoms enjoyed by these individuals. Men whose societies take away the very concept of individual, the thing that those ‘protesting the system’ take for granted.

The scariest thing of all in this time of mass ignorance is that there is no excuse for it. Now, more than any other time in history we are surrounded by so many mediums of information. We no longer have to travel to find facts and truths, it is flooding us from within our homes. So many different news sources, so many different opinions so many exotic and esoteric factoids at hand, yet fewer people take note. Instead people are happy to frequent the common ‘mass outlets’ of information and digest with ease the simplified and PC versions of news and pop culture that drowns many a life.

With governments expressing desires to ‘censor’ the Internet whether the intention being that of political suppression or of moral policing, the truth of the matter is that the last untamed frontier of free thought and ideals is soon to be firewalled so as to protect us from any bad images or ideas. Like a draconian parent that knows better, the government of many a nation figures it will do us a greater service in the long run by preventing what we can and cannot view online.

Political Correctness has become the new Church as far as moral guidance is concerned, it is its own entity ever growing and its ranks swelling with the newly faithful. Those that believe in creating a heavily PC governed society believe that they are doing the right thing. This new machine of political correctness inserting its tendrils into every aspect of life and draining the life out of expression and creativity knows no limit to its advances it seems.

The wonderful thing of the Internet however is that it is a way for the individual to source agenda free information, from so many sources and outlets that it is almost only limited by how many net connections there are. And one can also say what they please so long as someone is out there to listen, or read. Yet, people are offended. People blush with offence and insecurities at the idea that consenting adults participate in sexual acts and use the Internet to share this. God Forbid. They also blush at the idea that someone may not believe in their respective theocratic moral code, and that blasphemy is as common as is the praise for their deity.

The simple fact is, that if people are easily offended don’t Google such a topic. Do not seek it. Leave it for others, we will always find things that we do not like, disagree with or that even offends our very core. The Internet does not belong to any one ideology, religion or government and to attempt to police it is idiotic and wrong.

Banning the internet and preventing people from accessing information is no different to burning books. It is a systematic suppression of information or data that contradicts the accepted agenda or a regimes control.

Creating national fire walls will only send those offenders underground and will simply slow up connection speeds. Let the information flow freely, let everyone have access to it. Ideals are not bad. It is the acts of violence, assault and theft that should be punished. Not opinions and flights of fancy, words and images are simply that.  And even if ideals are so putrid, should we the individual not be able to make this determination for ourselves?  Or is this solely the domain of the elite, to preview everything for us.  To chew it up and press it as a mush into our delicate little minds all prepared and refined.

It is not the role of any state or cultural police to determine what can and cannot be said, what can and cannot be viewed, what should or should not be heard and what is acceptable to be discussed. Every tyranny from Christendom to Nazism has sought a means to control ideas and speech, it has suppressed and punished those with dissenting views in many a way and today in our modern society while the means are less than violent the goals are essentially the same.

Michael Richards showed us all recently that one cannot say what they think on a public stage, even if ‘nothing is taboo and all is uncensored’ as many comedy clubs have proudly depicted themselves in the post Lenny Bruce-George Carlin era. The reality is, that comedy works so long as it does not slip off those rails of conformist ‘correctness’ and yelling racist obscenities can get one fined, even while bigot like, it is ones very right to do so. Even if such language is ‘spiteful’ or directed at an individual in a ‘hateful’ manner.  It seems we have entered an era of ‘no no’ topics, where the past has been white washed in the sense that absolute truths are overtaking complicated realities.  An era where language is free so long as its emotional content is deemed justifiable or the speaker is in an allowable bracket by which they can say certain things.

When Michael Richards idiotically screamed that ever so forbidden ‘N’ word, that ironically is ever popular in so called ‘music’, he stepped over a line of accepted conduct. He broke no laws, yet his words enraged so many. He physically harmed no one, yet he upset so many. Whether you agree with what he said, or disagree with him, the point is that it is his right to do so. And the best reaction to his bigotry was to leave the venue, as so many did.

As the revisionist historian David Irving faced jail time in Austria because he MAY have conducted a lecture in which the denial of the mass extermination of the Jewish peoples in Europe may not have occurred, many thought he should suffer this punishment.  That a man should go to jail because of an opinion.  This is stupid and derides the very idea of a free society. Whether it is a man conducting a lecture or the publishing of cartoons, the condemnation should be up to the individual to make and not the coerced collective mechanism of Government.  Fools should hang on their own foolish conduct, and the savage tongued will eventually poison themselves.

Race relations have entered a new era, an era where minorities have greater freedoms of expression than those of a lighter complexion or a hetero background. It is a period, where ‘political correctness’ strikes fear into the hearts of the individual, press and places of business. Almost like a new McCarthy era where people with opinions, thoughts or jokes need to look over their shoulders so as not to be labelled ‘racist’, ‘sexist’ or whatever ‘-ist’ that one can conjure up. To be simply labelled is often bad enough, but to be black listed, fined and in a sense persecuted is an illegal form of punishment in a supposedly free society.

If all things are equal, then so should be standards of expression. Especially for those of us in a country where our constitutions allow us the right to say what we like, whether that be praise, correct truths or blatantly ignorant rants of bigotry. It is a very basic right. Just as it is your right not to listen, look or seek such information. And it was in critique and condemnation of the Jacobite regime that enemies of the Revolution were found, and while the guillotine sits idle, the sharp blades of punishment still are ready to fall on any that speak out of line and against the conforming dialogue of acceptance.

The beauty of freedom is that it allows us both to offend and to be offended.  Never for once consider your sensitivities to be superior to another’s.  While it is popular in Western society to defame theological icons and to soak Jesus Christ in Urine and call this art, to draw the Prophet Mohamed in comical situations or to even make Thor the son of Odin into a comic character, this all offends and harms the sensibilities to those who believe.  Yet while we shrug at this as a society and proclaim free expression we cannot stand in public and scream ‘c#nt’, ‘n**ger’ or ‘f**got’ because such words are now deemed as hateful and vocally violent against certain ‘groups’.  In reality the offensive nature to all mentioned above is no different. No one should die for what they say, nor be imprisoned or fined.  One does however control the tongue in their head and regulate it with dignity, being considered foul mouthed and offensive is social condemnation enough.  And so thus using such freedoms contextually and with consideration in mind is both sensitive and respectful.  No one should have the right to deny you what you wish to say, draw or write just as you cannot control what others think of you for it.  This is the balance of such offensive and splendid liberty.

And never feel that you have freedom of speech so long as you can attack with language one group or concept while being denied the right to use vile language on another.  Freedom has no linguistic taboos, while political correctness may be a fluid prison it still is a jail for free expression.  Never succumb to its apparent benevolent tyranny.  But never forsake politeness and consideration for others in the name of your free speech. Never champion freedom if it means that you are only interested in such a freedom so long as it satisfies your own ability to offend but you seek censors on that which would offend you.

Something about this article may very well have offended or upset you.  So be it.  Just as what I say may disagree with your mind or ideals, so may you disgust another with what it is you do behind closed doors or express among peers.  These are treasures that we should hold dear and not lock away, however ‘harmful’ that such words and images may be to some.

But that is the consequence of freedom… that you share it with those you disagree with.

Viva La Revolution, so long as what you say is not revolutionary or against the cultural regimes mandate.

Kym Robinson, January 2009