Today we had a braai, to celebrate national braai day, or Heritage Day as the idiots in the parliament would call it. As seems to be relatively usual with my closest friends, after the charred sacrifice to the gods of flame had been consumed, we retired away from the womenfolk, who had decided to speak about babies as two of the ladies there were with child, and began our usual mishmash of philosophy, politik, and random visceral outbursts of insult – riposte – counter riposte and general slander. It would appear that this weeks’ discussion would be about the right of Freedom of Speech. This was started as an extrapolation of a comment I made about to fellows from the UK fleeing the country to the States seeking political asylum.
The term Conservative Anarchy is one that I have coined for myself, with my own specific meanings. It is the term I find best described the type of liberal conservatism that I believe should be applied to humans in general; when it comes to politics at least. We were discussing the concept of Freedom of Speech, and, as I pointed out to Keys, the concepts of Freedom of the Press, Freedom of Thought and the Right to Privacy. Essentially it boils down to the following: I strongly believe that any person should have the right to think what they will, and say what they will. They should be able to write what they wish as well. Of course, there are caveats to this. One cannot simply suggest that one be able to write whatever they wish, otherwise I could write on a serious note that I believe that the President of the United States of America is a transvestite and transsexual cocaine addict. Obviously, this isn’t true (I hope). If I wrote the previous sentence and meant it to be taken in as fact and truth, then I am purposefully misleading the public, and that should not be allowed. If I had proof, which I published along with the statement, then obviously, I need not worry about misleading the public.
Yet there is more to it than that. I believe that you should be allowed to think what you will; which means that I am both for and against religion. I do not believe in organized religion, not at all, but, and this is important, my view of the Right to Free Thought means that I also believe that it is your right to believe in a god, be it the Abrahamic versions, or something more esoteric. Not believing in god does not mean I must force my belief (the right to not believe is in itself a belief) on you. That would traverse the first and foremost Human Right in my opinion: The Right to Freedom of Thought. If only all those religious zealots would understand that most basic right – if I don’t want to believe in your god, don’t try and force me.
After the Right to Freedom of Thought, comes the Right to Freedom of Speech. I say Speech and not Expression, because I think that Expression is too broad a term, and can be too easily violated. As an example of this, I know of an “artist” that desires, if he has not done so already, to chain an animal to a spike, and take stills of the animal while it starves to death, and then publish them as… art. This I, personally, do not believe should be allowed. That’s a life that the “artist” is simply taking and destroying for personal gain. It’s disgusting. However, and again, this is important; if the majority felt that it were sufficient to be considered art, then perhaps it should be allowed. Yet where does one draw the line?
I would like to suggest that the line is drawn by the tenant: “An’ so long as it harms none, do thee what thy will”. There is, however, a problem with that tenant. Where does one draw the line? Can such a lofty expression ever truly be upheld in modern society? Can you do anything without bringing harm to something? I do not believe that one can. Therefore one needs a defining line in the sand, so to speak, where the majority stands fast and says, enough. I strongly believe that the “artist” should be forbidden from performing the act of starving an animal to death, it is cruel. Should the majority, however, state that it is okay, then I must back down and allow it. It’s a bitter pill to swallow, but it is something that must be accepted because that is the concept of democracy.
I believe that Expression should be free on the basis that it does not bring undue harm on the living. So, we have decided that the Freedom of Thought, is the first human right, the Freedom of Speech is the second, and with it, comes a limited Right to Expression. The Right to Freedom of Speech is directly connected to the Right to Freedom of Press. I believe that the Press should be allowed to print whatever they want on the single caveat that it be the truth. The Press must be able to prove that their article, at the time of publishing, was, to the best of their ability, True. The only problem with such a Press is the old saying, if it bleeds, it leads. I find it so sad that the modern press finds the publication of essentially sorrow laden stories of death and destruction to be what sells papers. It doesn’t bode well for modern society at all.
What of the Right to Privacy? One of the things that I find disgusting about British Society and American Society is their absolute infatuation with celebrities. The simple fact that a young woman can become massively famous by releasing a sex tape is shameful on society. The utter infatuation of the public with someone like Paris Hilton is pitiful. I think that anyone should be allowed to do anything within their own domicile provided that it does not bring undue harm. If I want to live in a house that has pictures of naked women on the wall, I want to walk around with Superman underwear and wear a colander on my head while yelling out that Sheibitz, goddess of the Upperlurk is coming… then I should be able to do so, without fear of persecution from the public. If I want to be anti-social, let me be – if I want to become a Jedi in my own home, so be it. If I want to beat children within my household and abuse them, tie animals up and sacrifice them, then the government needs to intervene. I am bringing undue harm.
Undue Harm, I bandy that term about, but what does it mean? How can one define Undue Harm? If I beat a child with my fist, bruising and breaking, screaming psychological torture and abuse – it is undue harm. If I give my child a hiding because they did something wrong, and I prefer this form of discipline enforcement – is it undue harm? If I walk into the street and shoot a person, killing them, it is undue harm, and I need to be punished. If someone breaks into my household, and, in the darkness of the night, I shoot them, and kill them, is it undue harm? If I steal from a shop, it is undue harm, if I defraud someone from their money, it is undue harm.
Returning to the topic of Freedom of Speech, I should be allowed to say that I hate x race, and y gender, and z religion. It is my prerogative to do so, in the same vane as it is to say that I despise broccoli, hate beer, and can’t stand Days of Our Lives. Some may be stunned at the comparison of a vegetable to a human, alcohol to women or men, and a television soap opera to something like Christianity, but the simple fact of the matter is that I should be able to express myself in such a manner that stating these things does not bring persecution upon me. What should not be allowed, however, is the motivation of others via my rhetoric to bring harm on others. I should not incite others to bring harm. However, this does not mean I should be persecuted for saying something along the lines of “someone should bring harm to them”. Often, in passing conversation our group has stated that someone should shoot Bob Mugabe. Should we be arrested for that? What if we said someone should shoot Jacob Zuma? We’ve moved from the president of a neighboring country, and I use that term lightly, to the president, or soon to be president, of the country that one lives in. What if we expanded the term and stated that someone should shoot all black people? It’s hate speech right? What about when the black people shout out saying that they should kill the farmers? Where does one draw the line?
One may be motivated to state that the line is drawn when others act upon the rhetoric. However, this needs to be extended, who, in truth, is at fault? Am I at fault for saying that someone should do something? Or are they at fault for actually doing it? If I am to be held responsible for someone negative actions when those actions are acted upon due to my suggestion, then why am I not rewarded when they perform some positive action, also motivated by my suggestion? Why is it that one action can be condemned, but the reversal of said action is not lauded? Is it even reasonable to query such a concept?
Think what you will, no government, religion, person or party should ever tell one otherwise. How can they tell one that a thought is morally wrong? How can one control ones thoughts? A thought is a concept, and in order to curtail a thought one must have already processed the thought, and therefore already had the thought, thereby failing to exercise said control in the first place. Certainly one can prohibit oneself from processing additional thoughts on a given subject by changing the pattern of one’s thoughts, but the thought has already been processed and a conscious decision was made to prohibit further thoughts, but the original has already occurred. Therefore, according to the Christian text, each and every human is indeed a sinner.
To run off on a tangent; that is one of the things that irks me regarding religion, this concept of thought control. I believe that each and every person has some pretty disturbing thoughts throughout the day. This does not make us evil, or sinners. We do not act on these thoughts. We identify them as being deviant and other entertain them before dropping them, or simply place them aside and carry on with other thoughts and actions. According to Christianity, it’s too late, you’ve thought it, so you’ve done it. Well in that case, I’m going to hell, one-way ticket, no chance at redemption. I think it’s idiotic. The fact that I was able to identify a thought as deviant and consciously chose not to act upon it shows that I have control of myself and that I am not deviant. That, to me, is the measure of a person moral fiber. Having a thought, an urge, and choosing to ignore it and instead do something which may be more difficult, or less rewarding or pleasurable, because it is the right thing, the thing which brings no undue harm, this, to me, is the measure of righteousness.
Conservative Anarchy, the concept that I should be able to say and think what I want to, without pressure from religious groups or politicians, curtailed by the concept of undue harm.
An example of this is the absolute crap job that modern day parents are doing in raising their children. Mind you, I can imagine that it is mostly impossible to raise a well adjusted child in this world. You can’t discipline your child, you can be arrested for it. The schools can’t give real punishment to children either, and the education system is, to coin an Afrikaans term, “in sy moer in”. But, what parents should be doing, is curtailing the media that their children are exposed to. I know of a several parents, and this has never made sense to me, that allow their pre-teen children to play video games, or watch movies with lots of violence, but do not tolerate such games or movies if there is swearing or sexual imagery in them. Uhm, what?
Somehow it has become accepted practice to allow violence, but discourage love. The naked human form is a beautiful thing (in most cases), yet seeing that is considered taboo. However, running around with a big fucking gun and blowing bits off of your enemy is fine. Simulating sex is only for adults, but simulating murder is okay for 13 years olds and up, provided that the blood is cartoony. Seeing a woman’s breasts and vagina is for 17 and over, but seeing bloody bodies is okay for the evening news. I sometimes do not understand this world that I live in – then again, sometimes I do not think that I live, instead I think that I merely exist, in this pseudo stasis of fear and financial limitations.
If parents simply adhered to the certification of media that they allow their children to be exposed to, I wonder what difference it would make? If parents took the time to observe the media that they allowed to their children, I wonder how many parents would continue to allow it? Is it that parents do not have the time to be with their children? Is it that their own desires out-weight their responsibility to their children? I’m rambling.
Have the right to think what you will, have the right to say what you will, but do not incite violence, have the right to print what you will, but prove it is the truth. Do not invade the privacy, the sanctity of a person’s home. Allow anarchy, but be conservative on that allowance. Give the right to think and speak what you will, but curtail the ability to bring undue harm.
In closing, I urge people to think more, and act less. That may sound a little odd, but spending time thinking about the world around you, your responsibility to the world and your society, and the responsibility that the world and society has to you, may eventually lead to a better realization of society in general. You have the ability to refrain from reading that which offends you. Use it. You have the ability to express yourself via the Internet. Use it. You have the ability to state that someone, or something offends you, use it. Use your thought, use your will.