Free Speech is great…in theory. It enables us to say what we like, when we like, unhindered and uncensored.
Such freedom applies to all us, whether we write for newspapers . . . stand on stage telling stories that create laughter by touching the audience’s collective funny bone . . . or just sit around with our friends and family, expressing our honest opinions.
However . . . in a civilised society, Free Speech should never be used to incite violence – something that was often forgotten during recent demonstrations.
You can never truly win an argument by throwing stones at the person with an opposing view to yours or by shouting them down.
As I’ve said before – one thing I can’t tolerate is intolerance.
Writing for this newspaper I’m in a privileged position, well aware that one comment out of place can get up more people’s noses than a warehouse full of Vic inhalers. I’m obliged to state that inhalers with names other than Vic are available. ‘Colin’, for example.
There are people out there – not you, obviously – who on seeing something in print they object to, put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard to complain about it. I’ve done it myself. Usually when the thing I see in print is my tax bill.
I’ve always tried to avoid offending or insulting people, aware we need to be ‘woke’ these days, especially if we’re in the media.
But in the interests of balance, I think it’s only fair that if a group or an individual object to something – whether it’s a comment by J.K.Rowling (that up and coming writer set for big things in future, you mark my words) or a statue of an historical figure who, in their view, has a lot to answer for – anyone who holds a strong opposing view should have access to the same platforms as the objectors, to present a rational counter argument without being called offensive names.
In other words, if we disagree with what they’re disagreeing with, we should be as free to disagree with their disagreement as they are to disagree with whatever they found disagreeable in the first place.
Now that’s Free Speech!