It seems to me that Freedom of Speech is under more threat today than it has been for a couple of hundred years. It has been replaced by the Right to be Offended, some are even going so far as to ban words from our lexicon, the words in the Red Flag should now be sung 'while namby pambies flinch, and people with alternate opinions, sneer' we'll keep the Red (no offence to ginger people) flag flying here.
Take this whole issue of misogyny. As an old bird (I can call myself that because I am one), I often have a chat and giggle with other old birds, and all of us (without exception), loved getting wolf whistles, saucy winks and offers to join the mile high club (Ok, made the last one up, but it remains on the wish list). Too few men as it is, have the guts to suggest a quicky before work, ffs, the last thing feisty gals need are more laws to nobble the rest of them. It's no wonder most dating is done online these days, 'come and see my etchings' would see a young man imprisoned and placed on the Sex Offenders Register.
Of course, there will always be the creepy types out there who think flirting copping a feel and drooling 'cooorrr' is a turn on, eg. Donald Trump, but this is where stilettoes and elbows should be put to full use. Actually the DT reference kind of negates my argument, I can't think of anything more traumatising than being groped by Donald Trump.
But back to Freedom of Speech. It's like everything George Orwell predicted is coming true. Words are being erased or their meanings changed. The freedom of information brought to us by the WorldWideWeb, has given a voice to everyone. There are no valid or moral reasons for the 'authorities' to deprive individuals of internet access (their ultimate goal) and they couldn't even if they wanted to. The only way in which to challenge those online who hold subversive views, is to accuse them of 'trolling'. The more they convince the public that 'trolling' is an evil and heinous crime, the more likelihood of passing laws that will enable them to police the internet and round up their targets.
Which takes us back to Freedom of Speech. I am unashamedly a fan of Celebrity Big Brother, but I found the eviction of Christopher Biggins, deeply disturbing. I didn't agree with his views or those of Renee (?), but I would have liked to see the discussion develop as it would in real life and as in real life, the better argument would win. I'm afraid I have little time or patience with people who go through life carrying their Right to be Offended like a banner. They leap on their opponent's argument, sifting through it with a fine tooth comb, or a wordsearch for Woman, Jew, Race, Age etc. Who was that wailing creature weeping for, the entire Jewish race or her need for camera time?
As for CB's views on bisexuals, OK, they don't go along with popular opinion, but for all the bisexuals out there (and those who have dabbled), it would have made an interesting and enlightening discussion. Quite clearly CB is not a hate preacher, and no doubt his views would have mellowed or changed if offered alternate opinions. Unfortunately, CB's views are representative of a small minority, who's prejudices will no doubt continue because their views were stifled rather than challenged. It's like smacking a toddler without telling them what they did wrong.
But the CBB incident is but a symptom. Those who demand the Right to be Offended are starting to outnumber those of us who couldn't give a monkey's and it's their rules that going to be enforced. Having been trolled, stalked and harassed for almost 10 years, I can confidently confirm that it is only detrimental to your health and well being if you allow it to be. Once you understand the problem lies with the misfit, weirdo, chickenshit, not yourself, everything falls back into perspective.
I find this move to prohibit words, language, comedy, lively discussion, sinister and undoubtedly motived by something evil. For example, I would much rather see the Labour Party have a healthy debate about anti Semitism, Misogyny etc, unhindered by rules that restrict the language and the words used. This whole idea of nicey, nicey politics, backed up with penalties appears to have gagged politicians to the point where the only means of communication they have left is a right hook.
Stalking or harassing another individual online or anywhere else is against the Law. There is no case for new Laws or the strengthening of existing laws to weed out those deemed subversive. All those offended by what they read online have the right to reply, as we all do and they have the means to block the offenders. Having your enemies imprisoned shouldn't be an option.
To those pleading the Right to be Offended, I would ask, why should the social media use of billions worldwide be restricted because your haven't got the social or internet skills to handles yourselves online. You may choose to live in a sanitised bubble, but that would not be the choice for most of us.