Sunday, March 02, 2008

Freedom of Speech

Many countries around the world are facing a dilemma at the moment.
It is the issue of political satire vs. freedom of speech.
As some of you know, Denmark has been in the spotlight with the mohammad cartoon controversy. It's a very difficult situation because it has divided people between the constitutional right of freedom of speech and political satire which offends the fundamentalists of the Islamic/Muslim faith. An art gallery in Germany had to close its exhibition because of threats from fundamentalists because there was one picture they found offensive. But the whole exhibition was about many religions and "isms" and no one else reacted as they did. I don't believe in poking fun at others - but there is a huge difference between being able to laugh at yourself and issuing death threats if someone has a different opinion.
Little Denmark is an old country with many old traditions. When people didn't agree on things, they talked them out - and even agreed to disagree!But now there are bombings and death threats that were virtually unknown to this country.
I believe that if you move to a new country that gives you opportunities you never had before - it's important to become apart of that society and give back what was given - not try and make it a copy of the place you came from.
I found the following on the internet written by the former prime minister of Australia, John Howard. I think it sums up the issue.
Thanks for reading. - this is must my opinion blowing in the wind.

The 'IMMIGRANTS, NOT AUSTRALIANS, MUST ADAPT. Take It Or Leave It. I am tired of this nation worrying about whether we are offending some individual or their culture. Since the terrorist attacks on Bali , we have experienced a surge in patriotism by the majority of Australians.'
'This culture has been developed over two centuries of struggles, trials and victories by millions of men and women who have sought freedom'
'We speak mainly ENGLISH, not Spanish, Lebanese, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, or any other language. Therefore, if you wish to become part of our society . Learn the language!'
'Most Australians believe in God. This is not some Christian, right wing, political push, but a fact, because Christian men and women, on Christian principles, founded this nation, and this is clearly documented. It is certainly appropriate to display it on the walls of our schools. If God offends you, then I suggest you consider another part of the world as your new home, because God is part of our culture.'
'We will accept your beliefs, and will not question why. All we ask is that you accept ours, and live in harmony and peaceful enjoyment with us.'
'This is OUR COUNTRY, OUR LAND, and OUR LIFESTYLE, and we will allow you every opportunity to enjoy all this. But once you are done complaining, whining, and griping about Our Flag, Our Pledge, Our Christian beliefs, or Our Way of Life, I highly encourage you take advantage of one other great Australian freedom,
'If you aren't happy here then LEAVE. We didn't force you to come here. You asked to be here. So accept the country YOU accepted.'
Maybe if we circulate this amongst ourselves, American & us citizens will find the backbone to start speaking and voicing the same truths.


Hootin' Anni said...

Exactly...I whole heartedly agree. We U S citizens have been triggered by the Spanish American language influx here of late. Some say "learn English" if you want to live here...or leave. Well, I feel if you want to be of your own heritage, that's fine. But if you live here...speak our language and quit complaining. Afterall, like your John Howard states...if you're unhappy here, leave.

But then again, there's the old saying that America was built on immigration...and that's true also. I've been to parts of other large cities here in the states that there are certain 'culture' areas where Irish is spoken...some where Spanish is spoken...and even been to parts in the Northeast here, where German is spoken....but by and large they ALL can speak English also.

There is a fine line between satire and freedom of speech tho, some just can't handle it. I for one, like to have political satire...words don't harm. Or so the saying goes. "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me"...and then there are political cartoons that depict something 'out of the ordinary' to some groups, and the saying goes like: A picture is worth a 1000 again it's just 'words' whether they're in type or in a drawing/picture. No harm, no foul.

Sarge Charlie said...

This is a great post, I am going to do a shout out..........

the teach said...

I'm sorry guys, but American is the land of immigrants "Give me your poor, your huddled masse, yearning to be free..." I take that very seriously. I believe immigrants need time to adapt and assimilate. They ALWAYS have. The children of immigrants speak English after having attending public school. The children of ALL immigrants assimilate. And thats the way it has gone since the beginning. There have always been people complaining about "furriners" when their own ancestors came to this country from other places. Stop complaining and embrace your fellow Americans!! All of you! Especially you Sarge!

poor man's nicole richie said...

it's just simply saying: IF YOU CAN'T TAKE THE HEAT, GET OUT OF THE KITCHEN!.
You can relate it to the mass dolphin slaughtering in Japan. A culture that has been built centuries ago.
Most of us felt ill about it but then again, it's their culture.

Morning Sniffles

trying said...

I came over from the shout out on Sarge Charlie's post. Fantastic post!!!

If America cant get their head on straight and soon, I might hop on over to Australia!

Melli said...

Well, to the Teach -- I don't think anyone said anything about NOT accepting immigrants -- I think the subject had to do with the immigrants coming and then wanting US to CHANGE to be more like the country they left! And that is NOT acceptable! I fully agree with this post! The immigrants ARE welcome -- welcome to come and ACCEPT us AS WE ARE!!!

Sarge Charlie said...

My friend the teach missed the whole point of this post. I accept and welcome those who wish to become Americans, those coming today wish to change us, not use our language, as older generations did. Sorry Teach, you need to bone up on this one.

Michelle said...

Teach, the point is that immigrants have always assimilated. My grandfather started public school speaking only Italian. No one expected the whole school to change to speak Italian for him -- he learned English.

And it's absolutely true that part of what makes America great is the contributions from other cultures. I sure don't want to give up sushi or tacos. And amazing things have happened when immigrants combine aspects of the old world with the new -- like fortune cookies and California rolls! (I like food, ok??)

What upsets people is when immigrants come here with no desire to be part of the melting pot. They create small third world communities right here, with crime, poverty, and all of the other problems of their former homelands. If you want to come to America to be an American -- to be part of the rich culture that has grown from so many other cultures blending together and learning to be one country -- then you are welcome and eagerly awaited. If you want to come here and create Little Mexico (or claim that our land actually belongs to Mexico, as some unbelievable groups are doing), then just stay where you are.

As far as the main article and the struggle between political satire and free speech, I honestly see no problem. The whole POINT of free speech was political. We may have the freedom to say 7 dirty words on television, but the original point was political dissent and discussion. Without that freedom, the ability to use potty humor or pose half nude in a clothing catalog is pretty darn meaningless.

LibertyBelle said...

Thanks for the comments and debate. Once upon a time the USA WAS the melting pot of the world, but not so any longer. Now most European countries and Australia have taken in countless refugees and immigrants too. Most of these countries are much smaller than the USA so you can imagine what an impact it has on the host country to take in these new-comers who have no intention of partaking or assimilating into their new country.