Free speech or just an excuse to be insensitive?

English: Kids at shore
English: Kids at shore (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Humour at the cost of hurting another individual, that’s cool? Really? How is it ‘Free speech’ if it costs a tear and stabbing pain to another? Here is an excerpt that got me agitated, again.

I’m not surprised you get along well with all the other neighbours. If you put fifty children with Down’s syndrome in a room there is going to be a lot of hugging.

The only way the writer could ‘get back’ at a mean neighbour is to compare him to someone with disability? So according to the writer people with challenges are to be looked down upon, ridiculed, basically the children of the lesser God? I have worked with Down syndrome children and I assure you there is nothing derogatory in being compared to them. They are sensitive, kind, honest and the gentlest creatures on God’s Earth.

I know he was trying to be funny and was exercising his ‘Free Speech’, but I beg to differ. It isn’t ‘free’ if another pays the cost of expressing it, with tears and pain. I love humour and often do indulge in a little ‘smart alec’ dialogue delivery where the recipient, usually my mom, decides to chase me with her rolling-pin. However, I do respect the fine line between hilarious and insensitive. I was once laughing my head off at a Friends episode when my elder brother walked in, took me aside and spoke these words to me, “It’s ok to laugh with someone but never at someone. Is this entertainment for you, laughing AT someone.”

I know he was being a little too critical, since these characters were universally loved for being comical and not because they were ‘stupid’. However, it did highlight something in my mind, the fine line between respect and entertainment. I never watched another episode of friends again, as I wasn’t comfortable with the idea that I was laughing at someone, even if that was someone I loved and admired. In hindsight, it should read, especially because it’s someone whom I love and respect.

I had a friend who rationalised her name calling as, ‘it isn’t mean if it’s true’. For e.g., A horrid teacher can be labelled a B*&^% if she truly is mean and obnoxious. I agreed with that reasoning until I met a dog lover who remarked, “Who says female dogs, a bitch is mean or obnoxious?” That got me thinking and I realised that dogs are faithful and basically a man’s best friend, it isn’t an insult to call a man a dog but it’s insulting to the dog if the man is horrid. Unless off course, if you consider dogs to be repulsive or to be despised.

Which is exactly what the writer is equating people with Down syndrome to be, despised. If you meant to insult someone and you did it by comparing them to people with disability you are insulting people with disability, that’s not free speech that’s mean, rude, backward and unintelligent. You can’t justify your statement saying it was targeted towards the mean person and you meant no disrespect to the people with disabilities. You just compared them to a mean and obnoxious person, how is that not insulting?

Wake up people, just think before you speak or write and if you do, then have the humility to apologise and say, “I’m sorry. I didn’t realise what I was doing.” There is nothing more painful than someone justifying his or her wrong; it’s like being hurt all over again. Spread a little love people, I’m done with the hatred and the name calling, aren’t you?

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I am not a feminist and it should not bother someone who is.

For all those who are lining up with a bludger in hand to let me know  ‘why’ they oppose my line of thought, how about you make your self a cuppa and have a read?

To be an active soldier means there is a war, which means that there is conflict. No matter how you look at it, conflict exists because two or more parties partake in the argument. To have an argument all parties have to agree on one aspect, to disagree about a particular point sensitive to both.

Let me explain, Henrietta a scientist stationed in Antarctica believes in aliens, Annabel Louise thinks only whackos would entertain such a thought.  Henrietta and Annabel Louise bump into each other at a community get together in their hometown; they have a wonderful time catching up. There is no conflict. Henrietta and Annabel Louise are both aware of each other’s position on Aliens, both feel very strongly about the topic, however it plays no part in their friendship.

They are more than their opinions on a topic, Henrietta is more than an advocate of Aliens, she is a woman, a scientist, a kind person, etc. and so is Annabel Louise. I am not a feminist because I am not a label and no I don’t believe in all things equal. There is a lot more dynamics at play than just one metric as to intelligence or superiority. I am a lousy doctor (I never went to medical school), xyz is a great doctor because xyz actually studied to be a doctor, and it doesn’t mean that I am an inferior person.

We are not created ‘equal’ but we are created ‘unique’. We should celebrate our individuality not lobby for equality. A friend of mine has a child who has Down syndrome, you won’t find my friend lobbying for equality for her daughter but she does try to ‘educate’ everyone about how wonderful her daughter is.

All this ‘fight’ for equality stems from the need to fit in, for recognition, for acknowledgment. You don’t need all that when you are truly liberated. When you are your own person and not ashamed of who you are then the world doesn’t affect you.

I am a scrooge and I love bargains, I actually get a kick out of savings, I am a clearance shopper. My husband is the exact opposite; he loves designer wear, pays top dollar for everything and always disowns me in public when we are out shopping. Do we argue? In the beginning yes, when we tried to win each other over to the other side. Today, we have come to an understanding that we both have a right to exercise our choices (that does not cross certain lines, fidelity, honesty etc.) without needing each other’s approval.

Life shouldn’t be different, the world is not fair and it’s foolhardy to think that you can get somewhere lobbying about it. True change comes from within, it’s a gradual shift, the community has to come together and effect the change. Women play a great role in shaping the future, as mothers, sisters, daughters, wives, carers, teachers etc. If the world is not a better place then perhaps we should begin looking into our own souls?

You who lobby for women’s lib, do you look down on women who don’t ‘agree’ with your line of thinking or support you? Does the top executive look down on the stay at home mom? More importantly does the stay at home mom feel inadequate because she isn’t climbing the corporate ladder?

Inequalities stem from our own ideas of success, as mothers do we secretly hope that our children will become doctors, noble laureates instead of let say, a truck driver? Who are we to judge that a truck driver is any less of a person than a Nobel laureate? Yet it is the unspoken truth, we are always competing and comparing our children. Step into a playground and you can hear the mothers, “Mine is 18 months and already potty trained!” “My baby has spoken her first word, and she is only 7 months!”

Do you really think your kids don’t hear you?  So early in life they are absorbing this competitive spirit, they are developing this need for approval and public admiration?

So no, I’m not a feminist; I am a woman, ordinary and proud of it. Ordinary to the world but so special to my family and you know what? That’s all that matters.