There are things I cannot say or I would get quickly arrested.
There are things I cannot say or I would lose my job, my customers, or be abandoned my close friends, or be rejected by some or all members of my family.
There are things I cannot say or I would be less respected and perhaps severely censured in the media.
And that’s here in Canada.
BUT, what makes this of interest to me at least, is that along with a handful of similar countries throughout the world, I still have the greatest degree of freedom of expression in my writings compared to the majority of countries who apply stricter rules for researchers and journalists.
So, since all events are a function of time, place, and circumstance, Canada is one country that I should be able to speak my mind by paying close attention to the timing of what I say, where I am saying it, and with whom, how and why I’m saying it. And do this without too much worry.
Lately in the news, there has been much discussion about internet security and rights of self-expression. The relationship of course between security and expression is not always obvious. Suffice to note that one’s security may be mitigated by one’s publicly expressed beliefs. History is replete with examples of death, torture, imprisonment, deportation, and shunning that have befallen those who chose to speak their minds in public. How many journalists have been shot, tortured or even beheaded in the past few years? In many cases it’s not because of what they have said but because they belong to a profession that investigates and reports their findings. So bad things happen to good people, even if by association.
Saying that a) organized religions have a poor record of promoting and salvaging peace, b) nude is not lewd, c) all aberrant behaviour is explainable through science, d) many Vegans have low red blood cells, d) proportionate representation is the only truly democratic way to vote, or e) sexual preference has no bearing on civic responsibility – might get me in trouble with some people. And these are what I would term ‘mild’ propositions.
Yet, the public media is guided by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in Canada, and several federal and provincial Laws, that guarantee certain parameters within which, luckily, an author can function from a wide base of interests to state his or her case. I am able to write about nipples, and penises, and racial prejudice, and political corruptness, and poverty among the elderly, and the shoddy rehabilitation of criminals, and child abuse, and how 80 individuals control most of the world’s wealth, outmoded education systems, and so on. And few people know, or perhaps want to know, that there is a law in place in Ontario that allows women to bare their chests in public, provided it is not done in an obvious sexual way, such as cutting the lawn. So there’s a topic that could be written about without fear of legal sanction, but one might have to deal with cryptic bolts of rebuke by some ignorant readers.
Speaking your mind is your right. How you say it, to whom, where, why, and when, may be predict the kinds of responses you get. Nonetheless, the world’s a better place, I feel, from the presence of authors of all kinds, who seek truth, fairness, an informed public, and a desire to improve the human condition.
TL Hill, PhD