Friday, 16 January 2015

me vs pope francis and the whole charlie hebdo / freedom of speech debate

Pope Francis, speaking about the attacks on Charlie Hebdo stated :

"The attacks were an "aberration", and such horrific violence in God's name could not be justified.

He staunchly defended freedom of expression, but then he said there were limits, especially when people mocked religion.
"If my good friend Doctor Gasparri [who organises the Pope's trips] speaks badly of my mother, he can expect to get punched," he said, throwing a pretend punch at the doctor, who was standing beside him.

"You cannot provoke. You cannot insult the faith of others. You cannot make fun of the faith of others. There is a limit."

Now of course l am not going to state that l am better than The Pope, or my opinion means more, but, due to the rather marvelous freedom of free speech, l am allowed to state this.....

If a friend of mine mocked my mother (who is dead), there is no way l would resort to violence against him / her. I would have no problem with friends (or others) mocking her in a piss taking way, even if they did push boundaries that may upset other people if their mothers were being spoken about in the same way, but l would not resort to violence.

Black humour is often the funniest, and can also be used as a relief from day to day hurt, or numerous family issues. If the person was being deliberately offensive, aggressive and antagonistic, l would tell them so, and remove myself from the situation. If not, l would involve the law, as l (and everyone else in the UK) am already protected under the current legislation.

As for making fun of the faith of others, l believe whole wholeheartedly in the freedom of speech and by definition, print. l would have no hesitation at all with making merriment against faiths myself (and have often done so), as long as it is not provoking any kind of violence, threats or aggressive (or even passive aggressive) actions or statements against the faith or person / organisation in question.  Please don't get me started on the amount of issues that offend me, but people have the right to be idiots (and wrong in so, so many ways)

If hard line members of a faith wish to take umbrage against mockery, using blasphemy issues as a reason for doing so, they should boycott magazines and businesses, use it as a marketing tool for their own faith, and get their viewpoint across in the media. It wasn't that long ago in the UK when we had issues around 'The Life Of Brian' with Mary Whitehouse on the prowl, trying to stop the kids (maaaaan) enjoying Dr Who, or me (an adult) savouring the delights of  'The Romans in Britain' or James Kirkup's poems, by dragging up archaic blasphemy laws. However, to injure or kill others in the name of religion is abhorrent to whichever maker you believe in.

Most religious people l have encountered or read about have been steadfast in their beliefs that they were right, and everyone else's beliefs are wrong, but (maybe) because of their beliefs, are kind and tolerant to others, and would in no way, shape or form, advocate violence.

Every religion has it's extremists that in my eyes, give the religions a bad name, but they are still in the minority, and we should not be cowered by terrorism acts. They want us to be terrified, and always thinking of the consequences of their future actions, but l say fuck them - carry on with life as usual.

I've stated before that l don't want to be delayed unduly at an airport check ins because of security threats. What about large shops? The Underground? Football matches? The water supply? Large pubs or nightclubs full of soldiers?

I happen to live on the largest army garrison in Europe, but to live your life in fear is giving in (to the little people). Anything may happen in the future, and l have no problem with random checks when entering potential target areas, or a police presence in aforementioned places, but don't let our freedoms erode, and don't worry - be happy, otherwise that is letting the extremists win.

And if you are interested - here's the cover of the latest Charlie Hebdo, which will no doubt sell many, many more issues than any in the past, due to the recent unexpected publicity, and people wishing to show solidarity with free speech issues.

Possibly to mass swathes of the population, the magazine may be crap, not funny, and cause a lot of offence, but no-one deserves to die because of it.

toodle pip

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