Freedom of Speech?

August 11, 2018


Social media has now introduced censorship on on-line 'hate speech' and, at the same time, Boris Johnson is being bombarded with hate-speech by the media for saying that 'a woman in a Burka looks like a letterbox'. I have to ask, have we all gone mad?


First of all, I must state that in my opinion Boris Johnson appears to be a bigoted upper-class arsehole, like so many that have got into power via the benefit of a privileged education - not that I have ever met or spoken with him personally, but I'm quite good at reading body-language, even from long distance. At best he is a charismatic buffoon. When he said that a woman in a burka looks like a letter-box, I had to laugh, because actually there is some kind of comic-strip truth in it. It was funny. OK, one could argue that it was an 'irresponsible' thing to say in his position, but then again, the press/media could have ignored it, just as they ignore so many things that might be more interesting or more important to hear about. Once again the press seems to be permitted to print incendiary BS that is intended to give rise to hateful thoughts with impunity. And we buy into it. 


I believe that it is not about what is said, but how you LISTEN ... how you RESPOND, as a responsible individual, to what is said. Let me give an example. 


I was in Berlin  earlier this year. I was travelling on the U-Bahn (underground) with my best friend from USA, who lives there permanently. The underground carriage was fairly packed - the city is definitely getting more crowded!  Right in front of us stood two young gay guys openly and intimately flirting (as they do, in Berlin). Right next to them, and also directly in front of us, stood a young Muslim guy, who couldn't avoid seeing what was going on.  Eventually all three young men left the carriage at different stops and I took the opportunity to say to my American friend: "It must be hard for the Muslim's to witness such things in this city." Admittedly I didn't whisper what I said, but I was quite surprised by her response. "Sssssh, you can't say things like that!" I was shocked. We have known each other for years and our relationship is one of trust and frankness. We don't censor what we say. Certainly not in Berlin! So, what had changed? I was very alarmed and clearly irritated, because I felt I hadn't done anything wrong ... so, when we eventually got back to her flat we took the time to discuss what had happened in more detail. It transpired that my observation was correct.  It was not what I said, but the way it was heard.


It seems the streets of cosmopolitan Berlin have also become a place, where one is now forced to exercise care, almost to a paranoid degree, about what one says, in case one offends someone with potentially incendiary observations or perceptions. There are some subjects that are simply not discussed, if at all in hushed tones. All over Germany now there appears to be a censorship on what one is allowed to comment on or openly question about the Muslim culture. The Germans feel that they are being more and more surrounded by Muslims and that they can no longer safely walk the streets, particularly women and gay people. In some parts of Germany, where a lot of refugees have been given sanctuary, it is now inadvisable to openly admit that one is gay. 


So, what can we do about this?  Certainly, censoring our thoughts, perceptions and feelings cannot be the way forward.  These things need to be discussed openly. Again ... I believe it is not what people say, but how you choose to hear it, respond to it.  Each individual is responsible. If you don't like 'hate speech', then don't buy the newspapers. Turn off your social media. Unlike/ignore friends that bore you. Or engage openly and fight for what is rightly yours ... which is FREEDOM OF SPEECH. We all have a right to an opinion. The only way of finding out whether there is truth or longevity in it or not, is to express that opinion. I would very much like to hear your opinions.


In the next post, I will be discussing BURKAS. 




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 Josephine Larsen