Freedom

Rosemary Albert forwarded a very interesting blog to me this week by a guy called Akos Balogh.
Like the proverbial frog in a beaker, we don’t always recognise the changes going on all around us and so it’s great to have social comment that sees beyond the immediate issue to the trends that are shaping our future.
Balogh addresses the media storm about Israel Folau’s recent social media postings and the response by Rugby Australia, and he points out some disturbing trends in the matter of freedom of speech.
Balogh admits that the tone of Folau’s comments were certainly controversial and, by implication, insensitive. But for him the real issue is the over-reaction of those he calls the ‘secular elite’. He makes some very helpful observations about what the response tells us about the mindset of many in our society, particularly those who control the media narrative. In particular:

  1. By any legal definition, Israel did not use hate speech, people were offended, but in the end, does that mean perspectives in our society must not be aired if someone is going to get offended, and does airing an opinion merit being sacked?
  2. People responded to the statement with emotion over rationale engagement – we are moving from a democracy to an ‘emocracy’, that is, where emotions rule and feelings matter more than reason.
  3. Harm is being redefined as ‘me being offended’. This has all kinds of repercussions for free speech in our society.
    He goes on, and I warmly commend the post to you, but this third point is a watershed issue in my mind and one that seems to have been accepted uncritically by many in the media

If the trend continues that those who express an opinion that is different to the current zeitgeist, the popular perspective on… (fill in the blank), if differing opinions are not permitted because they might ‘harm’ someone (read offend someone), we are in a perilous position indeed as a society. And not simply because us Christians, who might be on the outer, are silenced.
A truly free society should welcome ideas from all colours of its participants, and the price of that freedom is risking being offended from time to time. If we are really seeking truth, we should be willing to consider differing opinions to our own and be willing to put aside our offense and consider the proposal. I believe the truth will out in the end if we’re prepared to consider it from a rational and unbiased perspective.
The problem is that current societal trends are influenced by a mindset that doesn’t believe in objective truth. It sounds all-inclusive and equalitarian to allow people to have their ‘own truth’ but in practice people don’t tolerate a truth other than their own. They are offended that people disagree with them – indeed, they feel hated, not just disagreed with, and the natural consequence is an insistence that the entire society agree with their position.
And so we have footballers facing sacking because they hold a particular view. In my mind, whatever that view, it is not grounds for sacking. Particular behaviours might be grounds for sacking, but when we get to the stage of invoking the thought police, our society is in grave danger of losing hard-fought freedoms.
Fortunately, we have a God who rides above society’s trends and in all the uncertainties we face, we are simply called to be light to a lost world.
You can read Balogh’s post at this address:
http://akosbalogh.com/2019/04/23/the-izzy-apocalypse-what-the-media-storm-reveals-about-our-society/

Ray Robinson

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