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Our rights

I have been reading and hearing so much about religious freedom and freedom of speech, both in the media and here on LJ. With two big issues in this area currently in the news, I suppose that's inevitable.

The way it seems to me, I have the right to express my beliefs, (so does everyone else), others have the right to disagree with me, and to criticise my beliefs. I guess people also have the right to be offended by my beliefs or my expression of them. I have to accept that other people have the right to beliefs different to my own, but they don't have the right to force their beliefs on me, nor should I force my beliefs on them.

So much for our rights, but I think sometimes we should consider carefully how we exercise the right of free speech. It would be wise to consider the consequences of our words: will they hurt or offend others, will they cause problems far beyond our intended audience, would it be better to hold our tongues (or pens)? Wisdom it seems to me is probably the key. I'm not sure it was wise to publish those cartoons, nor to reprint them. I'm sure it's not wise to threaten death over such things. I'm not sure it's wise to make sweeping generalisations about groups of people based on a small group, or a personal experience.

I don't believe legislation can solve these problems, but I think wisdom, tolerance and respect for others can.


( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 6th, 2006 07:51 am (UTC)
Our parish priest joked on Sunday that we needed to keep the faith alive or no one would have anyone to draw cartoons about!

I think you are so right, freedom of speech is often abused as freedom to say whatever you want, even if it hurts people. I notice that a more common trend in some Americans these days, as if they have the right to say whatever they like because they're entitled to free speech.

I think your call for wisdom, tolerance and respect for others is exactly what we need.
Feb. 6th, 2006 08:35 am (UTC)
Our parish priest joked on Sunday that we needed to keep the faith alive or no one would have anyone to draw cartoons about!
I think that's a very real point, Christians need to be strong and stand up for what they believe. In the lj of another friend there was some very lively discussion both on feminism and religion, some of those participating, were very rude to others, (though most were very civil) and it was this which prompted me to write that post, because although people insulting each other in lj is hardly going to start a major incident, it is the same lack of respect for others and lack of basic politeness which does in the bigger political arena. I have no problem with people not sharing my faith, though I wish they did, I don't mind them poking fun at it, but I don't feel the need to be rude to them, I'm not sure why any one would.
Feb. 6th, 2006 06:52 pm (UTC)
Thank you for summing up a lot of difficult issues so succinctly.
Like most people in the west, I am pro free speech, and in my law student days I heard/participated in/read a lot of talks/debates/articles about censorship and its effects. I never heard anyone suggest free speech could be an excuse for bad manners, and the cartoonist seems to have been gratuitously rude to the entire Muslim Faith rather than to the minority of terrorists that one has to assume were his intended target. One would think an apology might be in order, but sadly, I suspect it would now be too late.
Feb. 6th, 2006 10:35 pm (UTC)
One would think an apology might be in order, but sadly, I suspect it would now be too late.
I think you're probably right on both counts, though it wouldn't hurt to apologise any way, it couldn't make things worse! I also think the media need to stop hyping this, because I think they've made things worse by the way they've handled this issue!
Feb. 6th, 2006 10:46 pm (UTC)
Absolutely.And you would think that the media would take note that as one of their number started it all, it might be an idea to calm it all down! Fat chance!
Feb. 6th, 2006 10:54 pm (UTC)
I actually think I've been much more aware of the media machine since I returned to the UK, overall I think the media is less influential in NZ. There is no equivalent to the BBC there, I missed it while I was away but it has annoyed me at times since my return! Still I don't think the media are very scrupulous in any nation, happy to get a good story regardless of the cost!
Feb. 7th, 2006 02:21 pm (UTC)
Agreed! Interesting to hear about NZ - didn't know they had no BBC equivalent! Sorry about delay in replying - I went to bed immediately after I'd sent that last comment last night!
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )