There’s a campaign that we often hear about in this modern world of the fight for freedom of speech. And to be quite honest as the title of this post suggests I’m cynical of it.
That isn’t to say I don’t believe in it. Because I strongly do. But I can’t help thinking that it’s a ploy to return the world to a place of prejudice at every corner towards people in minority groups. When exactly have any of the people campaigning for freedom of speech ever said for example, “If you believe people of the same race getting together is wrong you should have the right to say it” or “If you believe cis people are not their gender you should have the right to say it”. They seem to be campaigning from my perspective for negative things to be said about people in minority groups and in minority situations and never about majority groups and in majority situations. This is why I find it often very difficult to support the campaign because at heart, I don’t believe it is freedom of speech they are fighting for.
I’m a kind of a person who believes that everyone in both minority and majority groups is valid but if somebody believed either way that that wasn’t the case I would completely fight for their freedom to say that. But that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t challenge them on those views. It doesn’t mean I have to like them for those views. I’m noticing a slight trend lately towards the “keep your mouth shut and be polite” even if someone is speaking about having prejudiced views or you know that they do. It can be very suffocating if you’re a person like me who is passionate about their views. Often you are on your own in being ok with bringing up the issue. There may be one or two people like you but often there isn’t. Why? Because a lot of people like to stay neutral in social situations. They see it as conflict and trouble.
A lot of us live in a democracy. If two people with opposing views can’t sit down and have a calm debate on issues they feel passionate about, then where does that leave humankind? What often results from a situation that could have been two people getting their point across and then having a cup of tea together after becomes carnage. If you dare even utter the sentence “I think you’re prejudiced” it turns into a mess of “you shouldn’t have said that”, “ah, they don’t mean it in a prejudiced way”, “you can’t call people that”. And maybe it’s just me but isn’t that an attempt to take away my freedom of speech? I don’t actually let out my views very often in social situations for that reason. I’ve seen a lot of people who have honest views even in a calm way be isolated for daring to speak their truth including by people in groups that they are actually standing up for which is incredibly ironic.
There is also this idea that you are trying to change people when you disagree with their view. First of all, I have enough respect for the person I would be debating with to not think they would be weak-headed enough to change their views because of me. The people that say that clearly think they must be. Secondly I don’t exactly think I have that much influence over people! And lastly if I was out to change someone’s views I would go about it a lot more diplomatically than just being honest about what I think. People are more inclined after all to change views with a soft-softy approach than an honest approach. All I want in a situation like that is to put my own point across but it seems to be very hard for people to believe that’s all a person wants to do. Discourse is great. And uncensored discourse is brilliant. As long as both parties are calm, I don’t believe it’s right to tell people how they should speak in any discourse situation.
But I’m cynical of the motives of those involved in campaigning for freedom of speech. If it was genuinely a movement for freedom of speech, all types of freedom of speech would be included not just the middle ground like my views which are positive about both minority and majority groups and the views of people who feel negative about minority groups but also those who feel negative about majority groups and those who feel negative about both. When they don’t say that I don’t believe them and I don’t believe their motives. If their tactics were different and they were sincere with those tactics my feelings would be completely different. The question for me is not between freedom of speech and the feelings of people in minority groups when faced with prejudices about who they are as is often the debate put across. For me, it’s more about not singling out minority groups to be spoken of freely in a negative way by people in majority groups but rather allowing both minority and majority groups to speak freely in a negative way about each other and campaigning for both minority and majority groups’ right to do so. Are majority groups that special that they can’t be spoken about negatively like everyone else?
Ignorance. Lately it seems to be the most overused excuse for getting out of bother. If I had a cent for every time someone said ‘it’s ignorance, not prejudice’, I wouldn’t have to do the Lotto. But the thing is that prejudice often comes from ignorance. The two are often a side of the one coin. And there is a very big difference between the ignorance of not knowing something which is ok and the ignorance of believing prejudiced myths. For example asking, ‘What is pansexuality?” does not mean the same as ‘Does that mean you are promiscuous?” I suppose in short, it’s common sense to only ask what you wouldn’t mind answering yourself the opposite way around.
Now that I’ve spoken about the terms, let me get to what I want to discuss in this post. I have in the past had a few prejudices of my own which I apologise for and regret. I used to judge what a person’s gender was from their presentation, what their pronouns were, assuming their gender from their pronouns or words like brother and sister and from their voices and though deep in heart I always knew that was wrong, I done it because I was very brainwashed by the society in which I lived. I also used to use the term ‘coloured’ to describe people of colour until I realised it was an offensive term. There was a mixture of brainwashing and ignorance leading to prejudice thinking and speaking in that one. The latter I stopped immediately. It wasn’t as deeply indented me as the first one but I eventually got rid of the two thankfully and apologised in my mind for them as thank god I never actually used any of these prejudices in front of anyone I could hurt. And I guess the point why I’m writing all this is that the reason I got out of them is because I admitted to myself that I was acting in a prejudiced manner and that’s the problem with a lot of people with prejudices, they don’t admit it to themselves and that makes their journey to making themselves better people longer and sometimes they don’t even get there. It is a hard thing to admit but when you do, while of course you feel bad about it, it starts you on your way to recovery.
The problem is that a lot of people get defensive and what that leads to is people making out the way they are thinking is ‘ignorant but a natural way of thinking’ and it is not a natural way of thinking. It all ties in with that ‘everyone is prejudiced’ get out of jail card. Not everyone is and a lot of people have never had any prejudices in their life so that is really used to make a person who has prejudices feel better about themselves. To get out of having prejudices you have to take responsibility. Whether something is the reason or not for you thinking that, that reason doesn’t excuse your prejudices. You need to take responsibility for your prejudices and stop the pity party, the whole victim party and the whole feeling sorry for yourself because someone was upset by what you said. Yes I believe most people in this situation hate upsetting people but I find they hate upsetting themselves more and that’s not a good place to start from.
In addition and I think this is the bit that annoys me the most, they blame people for taking offense to what they’ve said when the most natural feeling in the world when someone is prejudiced towards you or you see someone being prejudiced towards people is to be offended and not like it. People aren’t robots with no emotions and I think people in this situation often forget that or conveniently do depending on the person. They want people to understand them being prejudiced. There’s a massive irony in there. And actually it’s more important to understand that you shouldn’t be prejudiced than to understand prejudice and why people are acting and thinking in a prejudiced way. I’ve actually heard people say that people who get upset about prejudice, even prejudice about themselves, need to ‘grow and mature’. As I said there is much irony in the things people say. Because when you have prejudiced feelings there is an immaturity and a lack of growth in that aspect of who you are. There is also a repression of peoples’ natural emotions here. It’s getting a stage now that feels very unhealthy where people are almost being forced to not take things personally that they do feel personally. When they think people ‘grow and mature’, what people are often doing is adapting to the situation to avoid hassle and the guilt-tripping of ‘the terrible struggle I’m going through because I’m only ignorant and you should understand that.’ Well this is tough love, nobody has to understand you acting in a prejudice way, stop your goddamn moaning and educate yourself and be adult enough to admit to yourself that what you are doing is having prejudices and that it’s desperately wrong. Would you be so understanding if people said prejudiced things about something about you?
If you honestly want to change this aspect of yourself, taking responsibility for your feelings and educating yourself is how you do it. Running away from your prejudices isn’t going to help you. Face them head on. They are there whether you ignore them or not so be brave and when you have got to a point where you are out of the sickness of prejudice apologise to those you’ve hurt or offended and if that isn’t possible apologise in your own mind. Then leave it in the past and don’t fuck up again. Forgive yourself. You will still have regrets but forgive yourself. Face these things you’re scared of feeling head on. I promise you that you won’t regret it.
I missed this story and I was reading it recently. It’s the story of the Straight Pride Pin sold by 1000 Flags and which was taken down from Amazon and the company’s website back in April of this year.
If I’m being honest I don’t know what the problem with it was. While I am the first person who will say a Straight or/and Cis Pride Festival would be a daft idea I genuinely do not see what the problem would be with a Straight Pride pin or flag or a Cis Pride pin or flag or a combination of both. The reason for LGBTQ+ Pride in it’s history was because of the oppression LGBTQ+ people faced. That’s the origins of it and straight cis people have never faced oppression and that’s why I think the festival and parade would be a stupid idea. However I think of pins, badges, flags and the like as something personal to a person because they are proud of who they are and I don’t think that pride of feeling is only reserved for people who have faced oppression. I’m proud of being pansexual but I’m not against any other sexuality. I’m proud of being cisgender but I have nothing against transgender people. I’m proud of being white but I have nothing against people of colour. I’m proud of being working-class but I have nothing against people of any other class. I’m proud of being female but I have nothing against any other gender. I guess in short what I’m trying to say is that everybody should be able to feel pride about all the various parts that make them them while respecting the various parts that make up somebody else. And to stop somebody from buying a Straight Pride pin is to stop a straight person from expressing pride about who they are which I believe they should be able to feel and express as much as anyone of any other sexuality.
Being pansexual I felt guilt when I read about it. What people forget is that to a straight person their sexuality is as personal and important to them as to anyone else and the prejudice I read in this case towards straight people was horrible. If a straight person wanted to buy a Straight Pride pin, I say let them buy the bloody pin in peace. All the things about it being Anti-LGBTQ+ was ridiculous. It has actually has nothing to do with LGBTQ+ people or issues and no one is being hurt by a straight person buying a Straight Pride pin. I personally believe everyone of every sexuality, everyone whether they are trans or cis, everyone of every gender, race, religion, lack of religion, nationality, class, etc … should be encouraged to be proud of who they are and express that in whatever way they want to and should be encouraged to speak about what it means to them. Whether we are in a majority group or a minority group in any situation it is an important part of who we are and to laugh about or be bored by someone expressing and talking about what it means to them is insulting.
Let’s not divide from each other. Let’s all express what we want to express in whatever way we want to and let’s respect each other as complete equals in every way.
The Supreme Court have ruled in favour of a baker who refused to bake a wedding cake for the wedding of a gay couple in 2012. The ruling was 7-2 in the Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop argued that his religious beliefs as a Christian would be violated by making the cake for husbands-to-be David Mullins and Charlie Craig. The ruling which had originally ruled in favour of the couple was overturned by the Supreme Court.
I find it all very sad. I actually get sick to my teeth of that ole chestnut of using your religion to discriminate against people. It actually seems very in fashion nowadays and it actually makes no sense. I think we all know Christians who are very open-minded, kind people and I think the box these people like Phillips put them in is very wrong. And if not all Christians are like Phillips then it’s obvious that it’s something to do with people like this and not their religion as they claim.
I don’t own a business but if I did I would be professional in my dealings. For instance if someone wanted a cake for a rally of narrow-minded persuasion I would bake the cake because it would be my job, not because I believed in the cause. It’s an open service to everyone and the old mantra is that the customer is always right. It’s the first thing anyone going into a business learns. What you believe is irrelevant to the needs of your customers. I find it massively strange this whole religious beliefs fight because people are asked to bake a cake, not attend the occasion.
Everyone should be able to go into a place of business and be treated the same as everyone else and no exceptions in any way to that rule. If you’re going to be unprofessional in anything you do you might as well not be doing it. Your opinions are your own personal beliefs. They should never come into your work but apparently the Supreme Court in Colorado thinks they should. I do feel sorry for Mullins and Craig in this ruling. Essentially what’s being put forward is that people can openly discriminate against LGBTQ+ people in services and the law will back them up. But I admire them for bringing the case and highlighting this prejudice that still goes on in our society and I wish them both a very happy life together.
Just one other thing I read about the case. Non-surprisingly the Trump Administration was all behind Phillips and Solicitor General Noel Francisco said the following,
“A custom wedding cake is not an ordinary baked good; its function is more communicative and artistic than utilitarian. Accordingly, the government may not enact content-based laws commanding a speaker to engage in protected expression: An artist cannot be forced to paint, a musician cannot be forced to play, and a poet cannot be forced to write.”
Now, I’m a writer and I would agree no one in a creative sphere should have to create something they don’t believe in. But it’s the creative sphere. It’s a solitary profession where you are creating something that people can either look at or ignore. There is a massive difference when you are running a business where customers are coming to you looking for the same service and you pick and choose who you serve what to. If Phillips wants to bring a social issues part into his work maybe he should have became a writer but if someone becomes a baker they can’t have their cake and eat it but essentially the Supreme Court said Phillips could do that.
Today is yet another historic day here in the Republic of Ireland.
We have voted yes on the Abortion Referendum here. It is such a fantastic day for human rights and freedom for trans men, cis women, non-binary people, intersex people and basically for anyone who can give birth. Now we have choice after a resounding victory in favour of amending the constitution. Today we stand together and I thank all the people who couldn’t be affected by this decision for coming out and standing with us by voting yesterday in favour of our choices. Thank you so much.
It was a very proud moment for me voting yes yesterday. After the madness of the stigma put on people for having abortions for so many years where people who did would be made out to be “murderers” and people faced 14 years in prison for having an abortion, this day is liberating and historic. Today, like the day of the Marriage Referendum result in 2015, I feel emotional and immensely proud of my country. I was terrified about the result as it’s such a divisive issue and I’m so relieved and happy today.
But today has much sadness in it too. I think of Savita Halappanavar who died in 2012 after been denied an abortion and hearing the crowd at Dublin Castle on the news chanting her name following the result, seeing people at the mural of her and seeing her father’s message was very emotional. Her husband and family are in my thoughts very much today.
I have a problem with the term Politically correct. Mainly because it’s always used when somebody shows ordinary decent respect for people from minority groups. But when someone shows the same ordinary decent respect for people from majority groups when does anyone ever say they are being Politically correct for doing so?
This kind of attitude shows to me a deeper problem with certain parts of society. Many seem to take it as a given that people should treat everyone in majority groups with complete respect. Yet see it as debatable whether that same complete respect should be given to people in minority groups. As humans, we’re all equal so the way I see it is that it has to be one way or the other. If I’m being Politically correct for example when I call a transgender woman she then surely I’m being Politically correct when I call a cisgender woman she. But is anyone going to say that I’m Politically correct in the second situation?
Taking myself as an example and various parts of who I am. Many wouldn’t say it was Politically correct for someone to be respectful towards me for being white and cisgender but they would say someone was being Politically correct for being respectful towards me for being female or pansexual. And that leaves you wondering, what does that mean exactly? That minority groups are so unlikable that to show ordinary decent respect would have to be Political correctness? That it couldn’t god forbid, be sincere?
I’m a very big believer in freedom of speech. But I think the way people talk about freedom of speech nowadays is very misleading. Everyone who seems to speak about it seems to parrot the same thing about how freedom of speech is being took away from people who want to have negative opinions about minority groups and I can’t take that argument seriously if they never say they believe in it for people to have negative opinions about majority groups. They say they want debates on whether minority groups live right. When do they ever say let’s have debates on whether majority groups live right? These people to me want freedom of speech and protection all in one go and they don’t seem to want people in minority groups to have either. So while I’m all for freedom of speech I think majority groups should be just as fair game to be spoken about negatively just like everybody else.
The Foreign Policy Magazine’s 2015 100 Global Thinkers event took place on Tuesday, December 1 in Washington. Coming before the Foreign Policy’s annual 100 Global Thinkers issue, the event surrounded a panel discussion entitled, “The Fourth Unsolvable Problem: The Future of Activism”.
Global Thinkers on the panel included supermodel Andreja Pejic, WITNESS’ Associate Director of Communications and Engagement Matisse Bustos-Hawkes, activist Jim Obergefell, rapper Sonita Alizadeh, photographer Robin Hammond, artist Adejoke Tugbiyele and co-founder and executive chairman of GiveDirectly Michael Faye.