Internet Journalism and the Freedom To Speak Your Mind

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
February, 2015

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Toenails: Friend or Foe?

No one writes about toenails. Except me.

Toenails live down there somewhere, oblivious to the world above them. For some unknown reason they exist, often to give us distraction or pain because they grow. And they require regular cleaning and trimming. I have fought many battles with my toenails, but am still the victor. So far.

So what do they do for us?

Well, apparently, they are vestigial claws, used for digging or scratching by our far distant ancestors of theĀ Homo Erectus variety. As we walk barefoot, they remind us as claws, where we have been with each step. The longer they are, the more attention they/we get, especially on public sandy beaches. Most of the time the claw function is sub-conscious and irrelevant. I have yet to see someone dig a hole with their toes, although in theory it is possible. And no one has stopped me and said something like “Your toenails are too short for clawing.”

They are status beacons. Dirty, knurled, ingrown toenails say a lot about their owner since their neglect predicts other body parts will be neglected too, i.e., hair, fingernails, teeth, etc. Really spiffy clean and manicured toenails are one important indicator then, of perhaps traits beyond hygiene, like personality. Clean toenails, well-managed person.

And they can be painted, according for some people an opportunity to display not only status but also its corollary, ‘belonging-ness’. Painted toenails signal fashion conformity or self-expressionism others also enjoy. Of course, the more people adopt a fashion the more it becomes the norm, so there is a time limit on self-expression of toenails as a personal statement. Kind of like the claim that “If we all were nude, no one would be nude.”

Toenails cost money to care for. Or they can. Clippers aren’t cheap any more. And manicures are getting very expensive. Bandages too, for those persons who happen to rip a toenail (only) from slipping while cutting the lawn barefoot. Or walking in the bush barefoot (been there).

Toenails follow us wherever we go, but are mostly an after-thought in everyday life. More likely, they remind us, rather than we remind them, they need attention. That ‘new shoe’ test is one moment in toenail time where they are victorious. Another may be while we are in bed, alone or otherwise, against the sheets or another person’s leg. Uncut toenails can be our downfall, in moments of intimacy, or while wearing open-toed sandals at a pool-side Bar-B-Q.

So where are we….do we need them? Probably not. Do they need us? Probably not. Are we stuck with them? Probably for the next 2-3 million years. They are just another in a list of self-discipline devices Mother Nature has loaded us up with, like hair and fingernails and other body parts that need regular attention. Just have to live with them, and use them to our advantage – for public status purposes, and maybe one day while in the garden when no one is looking – for digging holes.