The first was a small group of Americans who produced an Anti-Muslim video which caused outrage and violent protest amongst Muslims around the world, including here in Sydney Australia. The Muslims demanded the video be removed from YouTube and yet America stood by it’s Constitution allowing it to stay put citing “Freedom of Speech”.
I thought: Wow, that’s an awesome example of standing by your principles. (No I’m not being sarcastic here.) America, you clearly do not agree with the opinion in the film, yet you stand by any man’s right to express their opinion. Well done America! (I haven’t seen the video by the way. I have no interest in it and don’t intend to give it more focus than it is due.)
Since then, they’ve found some other reason to jail one of the filmmakers and made sure it was internationally publicised which partly seems like a read-between-the-lines way to cancel out the original high principles speech. Hmm.
Next came a secret video recording of Mitt Romney talking about the 47% of the American population that consider themselves victims. Once again the news blasted around the world with many people offended leaving a red-faced Mitt Romney tap dancing for a suitable explanation.
Shortly after, here in Australia, one of our veteran chat show DJs Alan Jones is secretly recorded saying highly offensive things about the Prime Minister’s recently deceased father. It’s the top headline on the news, advertisers start cancelling their sponsorship of his show, Facebook pages are madly creating petitions to have him removed from his job.
So in comparing these cases I have these things to say…
1) Where is the Freedom of Speech, people? We (meaning Australia and USA for starters) claim we have freedom of speech but does the rule only stand to a point of how many people are offended? Where’s the borderline here of exactly how many people need be offended? Because a principle can’t be a principle if there are exceptions to the rule.
2) With technology becoming more sophisticated every day it’s time everyone, not just politicians and radio DJs, begin to speak and act with the knowledge that possibly anyone in the world can hear or see them. No more “behind closed doors” deals. Don’t say different things to different people. Be totally transparent in what you stand for and then there will be nothing which can mar your integrity. A clear conscience is an easier way to live, for certain.
3) No matter what crazy person has an opinion (and please note I give no opinion or judgement on any of these cases), all that really matters is how we choose to react. We can’t all have the same opinions. This planet is designed to have diversity. There are many advantages to that because it keeps us constantly questioning and challenging in order to better understand our opinions, beliefs and what we currently consider the truth. This is how we progress.
So we can’t have everyone agreeing with us all the time. If one person throws an insult at someone else we have a powerful tool on our side here. Something apparently unique to this planet I’ve been told. It is Free Will. You have a choice as to how you choose to react.
Do you choose to be offended? Do you choose to disapprove? Because if you do, you lower your own well-being, your health suffers, your stress goes up and you may do something for which you’ll need to face the consequences of later on.
However, you can also choose to say “Well that’s not an opinion I agree with. What a douche bag to believe that. I have a different opinion”. Then turn your back on them and get on with your life being happy, healthy and focussed on your own positive goals.
Only when they lose their audience will a protagonist re-think what they’re saying. After all they are thriving on your attention, be it positive or negative. If you put a spotlight on them because you disapprove of what they’re saying you’re doing the opposite of what you intend and are giving them a bigger audience.
I know a fair few people who would argue that such a passive “weak” response of turning your back is not an option. But I am saying that it is indeed your choice and sometimes you need to be a lot stronger to take the passive option when all those around you have forgotten they have the choice of Free Will.
I could write a lot more about the consequences of disapproval but all I really need to say is
“Live and let live.”