Thursday, 3 June 2010

freedom to respond

well i had a little more excitement here yesterday than i was expecting, and i'm glad that's over. just a little more on gaza, i'm greatly disappointed at the american position on this. really, it's hard to tell that the party of the left is in power in that country, because just right now they're making exactly the same noises as the last lot. that's not much of a surprise, but still disappointing.

i've been meaning to write a post about the whole andy haden thing for days, but just haven't managed to get around to it. and pretty much everyone everywhere has written about it, so don't know that it's really worth the effort. but never mind, i'll just put down what i was thinking.

this whole incident happened soon after i was on radio nz's the panel last week (afternoons, 16.35, about 10 minutes into the clip) talking about freedom of speech issues regarding the drawing of Muhammad. i don't know that that session went as well as i wanted it to, but you can judge for your self.

the main point i was trying to get across is that i agree with freedom of speech, but that freedom has consequences. one of the most simple consequences is that the party you are addressing also has the freedom of speech to respond to you. they have the freedom to tell they disagree with you, that they don't like what you said, and to call for your resignation or for any other punitive action they think are appropriate. whether those consequences actually happen is another story, and depends on the context and the support these people have at the time. but they are certainly free to ask for something to happen in response.

the people who tell muslims to "just lighten up and get a sense of humour" seem often to think that freedom of speech should be free of consequences ie that they should be free to say whatever offensive thing they like, and the other person should just laugh it off. of course if someone says something offensive to or about them, then it's another story!

and that's what i'm finding interesting about the whole reaction to the andy haden thing. he exercised his freedom of speech, and there have been some pretty strong calls for consequences to happen as a result of it - his resignation from his position as a rugby ambassador.

those calling for consequences are in two camps. the first are the people who are understandably angry at his use of the word "darkie", at his characterisation of pacific island players, and at his apparent approval of the policy of limiting the number of pacific island players on a rugby team. i'd have to say that i'd be pretty much in support of this group of people. i think that positions like mr haden's have responsibilities attached, that statements such as the ones he made have a negative impact on a group of people who don't deserve it.

the second group of people are angry that he has made accusations of a quota for pacific island players, without providing any proof. to that extent, i'd have to agree with this second group of people as well. if you're going to make accusations, you have to prove those accusations are correct. if you don't have the proof but want to raise the issue, then you call for an investigation or raise it as a potential issue that needs to be addressed. i don't think that's too difficult.

then there are the supporters of mr haden, whom i haven't really bothered to listen to. but presumably they're sayign that he should be able to say whatever he pleases, and that we shouldn't be so PC. the supporters seem to limit their comments to the whole "darkie" thing, and don't want to address the false accusation bit except to assert it's true without providing evidence, at least from what little i've heard.

i'd say those wanting mr haden removed from his position are in the majority. and yet i wonder how they stand on the cartoons issue, and whether they see any parallels re freedom of speech. it seems pretty obvious to me.


Pablo said...

Funny that you talk about the responsibilities inherent in free speech but you allow defamatory comments to be posted on your site.

Is this a case of do as I say rather than do as I do?

As you correctly pointed out with regard to both the drawings and Mr. Haden, there are consequences for the failure to exercise responsibility.

stargazer said...

except pablo there were consequences to those comments: first i rebuked the person then i refused to let comments through. so i don't see any inconsistencies.

Pablo said...

stargazer: yes indeed, you have done the right thing. Now if you could only re-read the Israel-NK post to see that I was not "blaming the victims." Far from it.

stargazer said...

well, i gave you my reasoning as to why i interpreted your post the way i did, on the last thread. have a look at that and let me know what you think - i'd be interested in your response. as i've said, i agree with most of what you write (and in fact admire much of it), so this wasn't some kind of personal attack by me.

JFC said...

"one of the most simple consequences is that the party you are addressing also has the freedom of speech to respond to you"

That is correct. But you quickly go off the rails and the rest of what you say is a trainwreck.

When you disagree with what someone says you have the freedom to argue as to why you disagree with what they say. If you can produce a decent arguement that opposes theirs and even refutes it then good for you.
What you fail to understand is that you do not have the right
inflict violence or encourage others to do so. You do not have the right to call for people to lose their livelihoods and resulting hardships for their families just because you don't like what they say.
If they are actually incompetant at their job and if the taxpayer foots the bill for their job then and only then fair enough.

Like most on the left however you rarely have anything approaching a decent arguement so like a frustrated child you resort to wildly emotive language, tantrums and bullying.

stargazer said...

and like people on the right, you can't say anything without being abusive? i don't support violence as a response and have been quite clear about that on this blog and in the radio interview i've linked to. so that part of your argument is clear a waste of breath.

i agree to all other legal means of response. each position has responsibities, so i don't for example, think it's appropriate for someone who is an ambassador for rugby to be making racist statements about rugby players. i don't think it's appropriate for a public broadcaster to be calling the UN secretary general a cheeky darkie. in case you aren't aware, there are limits to freedom of speech on broadcaster and the press in this country and many others. they're called broadcasting standards, and the press council has it's own standards. there are also advertising standards. if people aren't prepared to live by those standards, then they shouldn't be working in that field.

now how about you get yourself a decent argument and learn how to present it without being arrogant and condescending.