Skip to main content

The Pope says 'non'.

The Pope has caused a stir.  Against the tide of 'Je suis Charlie' he has said effectively 'Je ne suis pas toujour Charlie'.  In all the excitement of solidarity we might forget that 'freedom' is tempered by the impact of exercising the liberty to express our views.  We do it all the time.  There are often things we choose not to say because of its effect on others. We do not wish to hurt them.  It is a self imposed censorship. There is no reason why the press ought not to exercise a similar restraint.  It is particularly so when dealing with stereotypes and actions which might incite dislike or even hatred of others.

We are almost all of us familiar with the process of bullying.  Each individual contribution to it might be small and seemingly insignificant, but the sum total can be profoundly damaging on the victim. This is why when we say  'je suis Charlie' we must be sure what it is we mean by it. It is too easy to consider the impact on a 'community' as being less problematic than an action against an individual. Calling an individual names, hurting them through ridicule has an impact we can see.  In the cloud or fog of ridicule of a community are hundreds and thousands of individuals. And it is made worse when it fosters or presents a stereotype.  They are all like this aren't they?

It is easy enough to be a bully. It is hard to stand against the grain of bullying.  In this the Pope is right to remind us that it isn't simply enough to say 'Je suis Charlie'.  We must also say 'non' to bigotry and hatred.  We must say 'non' to religious intolerance.  We must say 'non' to racism and racist stereotypes.  We must say 'non' to bullying in whatever its guise.  Ridicule is part of the bullies arsenal. A cartoon, a caricature can be as much part of the bullying as can a chant or a remark.

Je suis Chalrie.  Je suis encore Charlie. I believe in the freedom to express views. Mais, Je ne suis pas en faveur de l'intimidation. Je ne suis pas en faveur de l' incitation à la haine.

I say all this not to criticise satire. Let's satirise the satirists. Satire can carry a profound message. Let's be careful of the message.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Ian Duncan-Smith says he wants to make those on benefits 'better people'!

By any account, the government's austerity strategy is utilitarian. It justifies its approach by the presumed potential ends. It's objective is to cut the deficit, but it has also adopted another objective which is specifically targeted. It seeks to drive people off benefits and 'back to work'.  The two together are toxic to the poorest in society. Those least able to cope are the most affected by the cuts in benefits and the loss of services. It is the coupling of these two strategic aims that make their policies ethically questionable. For, by combining the two, slashing the value of benefits to make budget savings while also changing the benefits system, the highest burden falls on a specific group, those dependent on benefits. For the greater good of the majority, a minority group, those on benefits, are being sacrificed; sacrificed on the altar of austerity. And they are being sacrificed in part so that others may be spared. Utilitarian ethics considers the ba

The lion and the wildebeest

Birds flock, fish school, bees swarm, but social being is more than simply sticking together.  Social groups enable specialisation and a sharing of abilities, and enhances ability, learning and creating new tricks. The more a group works together, the more effective they become as a team.  Chimpanzees learn from each other how to use stones to crack nuts, or sticks to get termites.  All around us we see cooperation and learning in nature.  Nature is inherently creative.  Pulling together becomes a rallying cry during a crisis.  We have heard it throughout the coronavirus pandemic.  "We are all in this together", a mantra that encourages people to adopt a common strategy. In an era of 'self-interest' and 'survival of the fittest,'  and 'selfish gene', we lose sight of the obvious conclusion from the evidence all around us.   Sticking together is more often the better approach.  This is valid for the lion as it is also for the wildebeest.   We don't

No evidence for vaccine link with autism

Public health bodies are worried that an alarming drop in childhood vaccinations is leading to a resurgence of diseases in childhood that we had all but eradicated.  Misinformation and scare stories about the harmful effects of vaccines abound on the internet and in social media.  Where they are based on 'science', it is highly selective, and often reliance is placed on falsehoods.  Conspiracy theories also abound - cover-ups, deception, lies. As a result, too many parents are shunning vaccinations for their children.  So, what does the published, peer-reviewed literature tell us about vaccincations? Are they safe and effective, or are there long term harmful effects?  A new report now provides some of the answers. New evidence published in the Cochrane Library today finds MMR, MMRV, and MMR+V vaccines are effective and that they are not associated with increased risk of autism. Measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella (also known as chickenpox) are infectious diseases cau