6/06/2005

Freedom....

In the late seventies early eighties there was a British band called TRB, short for The Tom Robinson Band. They were best known for writing catchy tune with lyrics that were nothing short of deliberate attempts to raise the ire of the right. For example their most popular song was a catch little tune whose chorus ran:
Sing if your glad to be gay, sing if your happy that way Sing if your glad to be gay, sing if your happy that way
Nothing is more noticeable then a bunch of people standing around singing that I'll tell you. But the lines that stick out for me most right now are from a song whose title escapes me, but whose relevance is even more pertinent today. He talks about the conservative penchant for demanding freedom, and he then lists off the things they want to be free to do: discriminate, beat up fags, reduce immigration, preach hatred, not pay taxes, exploit the environment, well you know the list. In the more then twenty years since this song was published what amazes me is how little that refrain has changed, if anything it has even got more virulent. Their desecration of the concept of freedom has degenerated to the point that they see any attempt to grant privileges to any one not of their mindset as an assault upon their freedom. Canada recently passed some very strict anti hate laws which would prohibit anybody from speaking out against somebody for reason of race, creed, colour, or sexuality. To my mind this is freedom. Freedom from the fear of persecution and the uttering of hateful propaganda against one's self. This is the sort of guarantee that all decent societies should be giving their citizens. But the conservatives see it differently. They see it as an infringement on their right to free speech. Why? Well because this will prevent teachers in fundamentalist Christian schools from standing up in front of the class and telling their students that homosexuality is a sin and an evil. I guess they are worried that if people don't know that information they may be willing to accept homosexuals as equals, and we wouldn't want that would we. That is such an infringement on our right to hate people we don't understand. Their protests which are flimsy to begin with even sound hollower when you look at their record on free speech. How many of these people support the detaining of people without trial on suspicion of anything resembling terrorism and denying these same people the right to defend themselves? How many of these people are quick to try and organise boycotts of any product which advertises on T.V. shows that they consider inappropriate? How many of them conspired to ensure that theatre managers refused to play Michael Moore's 9/11 on the grounds it was unpatriotic? Whither went free speech in those cases? For the conservative freedom is defined as something that supports their agenda, or works to perpetuate the status quo. Affirmative action is an assault upon the rights of white people, an infringement on their ability to obtain employment. What was two hundred years of slavery and then another hundred odd of segregation, job skills training? When African Americans, women and other minorities stop hearing how affirmative action is bigotry then maybe it will no longer be needed. They demand freedom from government regulation so that they can "get on with business" But at the first sign of competition from a foreign company in the same line of work they demand the same government step in and interfere in the free market with tariffs. Their claim of preserving jobs in North America is so spurious that I don't see how they can even say it with a straight face, for at the first sign of opportunity they will ship those same jobs to a developing country that is desperate enough to sell its people into serfdom. They want the freedom to make as much money as possible, but when the people who work for them ask for the same freedom, and some security in the form of health and pension benefits, they are accused of breaking the back of industry. Unions that have not been co-opted into supporting industry are labeled as trouble makers, rabble rousers, whose intentions are to upset the apple cart. In other words eat into the profits of the share holders by protecting the jobs of the workers(see above paragraph) Like I said the list is endless and nauseating in it cynicism. By flying the freedom standard they hope to convince people that they are the last bastion against the anarchic hoards out to overthrow our reasonable society. They are not espousing liberty, but the rule of the few over the many. All conservatives care about is conserving the world as they see it, their place in it, their lifestyle, and their beliefs at all costs. The next time you read an article from one of their pens espousing freedom, try and figure out what exactly they are trying to protect. Look beyond the emotional trigger of the word and see the actuality of the thought. cheers gypsyman

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