Sunday, May 13, 2012

Viva la Libertad de Expresión

Since I am usually held to be a card-carrying capitalist with special baby-eating privileges I’m expected to be strongly opposed to the 15-M ‘indignaos’ marches being held around Spain. I’m not opposed to them at all, in fact. I have many times defendedthe right to freedom of speech and opinion, to peaceful protest, and to strike, even- especially- when I disagree with the way they are exercised.

I don't know why the right gets blamed for 'trying to suppress freedom of expression', though. In my experience it's the left that believes only opinions they agree with may legitimately be held or expressed.
(Note to self: stick to the point, this is not a political rant.)

I believe in freedom. I dislike any kind of control or restriction. Which doesn't mean that some such controls and restrictions are not necessary, but there have to be very good reasons and they need to be questioned always.

There is no but here. If we cannot say what we think we are not free. Their freedom is my freedom.

There were perroflautas, hippies, wanderers, unemployables, civil servants, professionals, most of them young. There were many placards with different messages. some I agree with, some I don't. some were serious, some trivial. The ones you can see in the photo have banners calling for 'Real Democracy Now'. This was how it started a year ago, at the time of local and regional elections here. People were begin to realize and to get exercised about the fact that the system of closed lists that has always been used for these elections puts enormous power in the hands of (often unknown) party controllers, and almost none in the hands of the demos. It's not a good way of doing representative democracy. In this I agree with them completely. The mostly unemployed younsters who joined them added their own grievances, mosly picked up, I would imagine, from a variety of sources in which their own experience didn't figure too highly.

There is also a reference to the cost of higher education and why should their parents have to go begging to pay for it, one that says 'Long Live Iceland', for some reason I don't understand, and another that rejects the presence of private companis in schools. I haven't heard much about this process in education, but several hospitals in the region have had their management placed in the hands of private companies, the idea being that these companies know what they're doing and how to do it more efficiently than the monolithic civil service, and what we want is better and cheaper services. It might not work, but if it doesn't, that will surely be the time to protest, not before it has had a chance to work.

There were half a dozen relaxed-looking policemen, in normal uniform. no trouble was expected and i don't think there's been any. in madrid and the other big cities it's likely the usual ignorant extremist thugs, some of them not so ignorant, just scum, will join in (apparently not, there seems to have been very little violence around the country), but it doesn't tend to happen here. Here people say what they want and that's that.

They should have, and thankfully do have in this country, the right to hold and express their opinions, whatever they are.

They marched through the streets, at times obstructing the traffic. Despite their distrust of politicians and authority in general, I wonder what would have happened if someone had refused to let them block the street in that way. I suspect they would have said indignantly that they had permission and you couldn't stop them. You also wonder, when they blame the banks for everything, if they would rather go without the house, the business or the car that they or the parents used a bank to finance, or to sacrifice their parents pension on the altar of ideological purity. Perhaps not. But hey, how many of us are coherent in everything? And in any case, there is no coherence clause attached to freedom of belief and expression. Just as there is no intelligence clause. Nor should there be a morality clause, although it seems there sometimes is.

There were drums, there was dancing, there was laughter.

They had fun, they made their point, which won't be explicitly heard by those they were mostly talking to, but an impression is left and they will have achieved a little of what they wanted. And no one was hurt or more than mildly inconvenienced. The way it should be.

It's not freedom of speech we right-wingers object to. It's mob violence. Some people can't tell the difference.

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