Freedom of speech, a well considered notion but a very complex reality. For one man’s freedom is another man’s outrage. That being said everyone is well within their rights to say whatever they wish on condition that is not too ‘extreme’ and doesn’t rub us sensible folks too far up the wrong way.
But where is the line drawn between extreme and one’s freedom to freely express their opinion no matter how retarded it maybe. I ask this question after reading a little known Irish cricketer’s tweet. John Mooney tweeted the following after news broke that the Iron Lady Margaret Thatcher was no more; ‘I hope it was slow and painful’. If you fell asleep during History class and are wondering why the Irish and all poor (or working class) people hate the Iron Lady read the following article; http://www.theworkersrepublic.com/the-death-of-margaret-thatcher.html. Enough with the history lesson though back to Mr John Mooney tweet. After expressing his enthusiasm at the death of Lady Thatcher, John was reprimanded in the media and publicly flogged by his employers (Irish Cricket Board) led to the slaughter house and forced to apologize. He also got a three match suspension to add to his gloom the poor sod.
Yet, under the big umbrella known as freedom of speech surely Mr Mooney has every right to give Thatcher the ‘send off’ just like Thatcher’s supporters (mainly family who must cry to get their hands on the inheritance) have every right to express their grieve at her passing. But judging from the parties that ensured following her death and emergence of three versions of Judy Garland’s “Ding Dong, The Witch is dead,” on pop charts it is safe to say that John Mooney wasn’t the only person didn’t like the old hag.
I’m fast discovering that there is such a thin line between freedom and hate. Twitter now offers celebrities and sportsmen the opportunity to by pass the scripted press releases and freely express themselves in 140 characters or less. It is becoming easier for not just celebrities but average the street cat such as myself to freely express themselves to the world or anyone that would care to listen. Should we be reprimanded for freely expressing our own opinions and views of leaders, religion and the world at large? Twitter has blurred the lines even further; for we are now more often than not expressing our views to the world rather than in private conversation in the solace of friends as we think more and more in 140 characters than personal conversations.
Freedom of speech is a delicate topic, something that should be treasured especially in a country like ours where many people bleed and died for the twitter generation to be able to freely express their all too retarded and ill thought of opinions. That being said freedom is coupled with the most un-rock star word in the English dictionary; responsibility. We all have to remember that words can raise just as much fury as any action or deed. But if we are going to draw a line in the sand where can we draw it? When it starts hurting other people? Then I assume all the Jacob Zuma shower cartons by Zapiro must be viewed as offensive and thus hate speech. If Mr Mooney had sent out the same tweet against a person like Hitler would there have been this much outrage? Bringing it home it seems to me that it so much easier to ‘challenge’ or insult a person like Zuma than Mandela? Is it ok to offend certain people and not others? Where is the line drawn? We all have our prejudices; according to mine Thatcher was an evil old hag. Did she deserve to die a ‘slow painful death’ I don’t know Mooney seems to think so?
That’s our piece and tell them you heard it from Matt “The Rat” Mkhize.