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Tony Watkins

 ~ Vernacular Design 

Freedom of speech Print E-mail

ImageA number of residents of Karaka Bay, who asked not to be named, for obvious reasons, have asserted their right to act as censors of the opinions and web pages of other people. They do not believe that freedom of speech has any place in a democracy. This brings into focus not only the real climate change issue but also the source of so many woes in our society.



When intelligent people with power are not willing to discuss or debate, but rather seek to suppress freedom of speech, and above all else to hide behind anonymity it would seem that our civilisation is doomed.

The planet will finally be destroyed by arrogance, bigotry, and the abuse of power, when it might so easily have been saved by a little humility and openness.

Karaka Bay has a long tradition of bigotry. You have a BBQ and a neighbour rings the fire brigade.  Those who have devoted their lives to the safety of others find they are pawns in a selfish game. You have a party and a neighbour rings the police. The men in blue are surprised to find a few friends having a quiet conversation. And so on, with the SPCA, Animal Control, Council and almost everyone else. It all becomes more serious when thugs arrive and beat you up to leave you crippled. Who is responsible? People who do not have the courage to be open and even-handed. People who want to wield power by hiding behind silence, and destroying other people, when they might do better to just go for a swim. People who are too afraid to say what they believe for fear that it is patently untenable.

Karaka Bay raises the most difficult environmental question of all. When you have a group of the most privileged people in the world living in one of the most beautiful places in the world why is it that a few people within that community with a lust for power should be so destructive of all those community values on which any decent society must be built?

It is not enough to have a society with many decent individuals. We need a decent society, able to accept failings in the same spirit that we might encourage everyone to realise their potential. Diversity and complexity are the foundations of sustainability. The economic meltdown seems to be of little significance beside the moral meltdown of our consumer culture.

The choices our civilisation is facing have seldom been more difficult. We need a society in which everyone declares their hand. I have always put my name on the bottom of everything I write. I do not expect everyone to agree with me, or even to believe everything I say. The principle is an important one. Our survival depends on it.

Who was it who said "I do not agree with what he is saying, but I would fight to the death for his right to say it." 

Without freedom of speech civilisation as we know it has no future. We can only hope that Karaka Bay is not a straw in the wind.

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