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Sunday, October 19, 2014

Respect: a two-way street

Respect is sadly lacking in Australia. Even the Federal Attorney-General has stated that everyone has the right to be a bigot. Now, I'm all up for Freedom of Speech, but with freedom comes responsibility and underpinning that responsibility is respect.

This lack of respect is publicly expressed by politicians, pastors, radio shock-jocks, newspaper columnists and any bigot with a social media account. Many of whom get offended by anyone taking offense at their offensive comments. They accuse the lefties, bleeding hearts and do-gooders of being weak and sensitive.

Studies have shown that racism is usually the domain of those less intelligent. However, academia hasn't been spared its share of racists. Professor Barry Spurr of the University of Sydney was suspended after his inner racist and inner sexist was unleashed in less than eloquent emails that used some of the most vile and offensive language against women, indigenous people, Asians, Muslims, people who are overweight and those lacking education. He whinged about Australia becoming less white. It was the quintessential expression of bigotry.

Spurr had recently reviewed the national school curriculum at the behest of the Australian Government and recommended that it focus less on indigenous history and more on its white 'Judeo-Christian' history. After the emails were leaked Education Minister Christopher Pyne stood by Barry Spurr and the review. Another politician promoting racism and white supremacy.

Funnily enough, many of those who claim the right to be bigots also whinge about how disrespectful young people are today.

Why shouldn't they be?

They have a right to be disrespectful based on the Attorney-General's logic and the Education Minister's acceptance of a racist review of the school curriculum. Young people see some of the most influential people in Australia, including journalists (or those that masquerade as journos), talk-show hosts, professors, pastors and politicians all bleating about how people should just 'toughen up' and not be offended if called offensive names.

Freedom of speech? Sure. Don't curtail it. It's a great freedom for revealing the racists and bigots. It's a great freedom for revealing the hypocrites who want the right to abuse others but to ban those who are different from expressing their differences. Freedom for some but not all if you listen to the racists, the bigots, the small-minded who can't see outside their own tiny world.

This right to bigotry and hatred is being expressed through attacks on innocent women who happen to wear Islamic head-coverings. These attacks are the physical manifestation of the political rhetoric voiced by politicians and some pastors who bang on about attacks on 'our way of life' and 'our Christian values'.

Hypocrisy of the highest order.

A generation of young people are growing up watching adults behave in disrespectful, gutless and short-sighted ways. Is it any wonder then, that some of those young people adopt similar behaviours towards others, including against those same older people who have taught them disrespect.

If you want to be respected, than start by respecting others. That doesn't mean that you just respect those who are the same colour, political or religious persuasion as you. It means respecting everyone.

If you want respect, then give respect.

It's a two-way street.

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