Friday, February 17, 2006

Of journalism and free speech

I have a personal dislike for journalists. The novel idea of free speech incites many a debate because of the extremely fine lines that we have to be careful not to cross. But does free speech entail the actual freedom that we are given to perform journalistic duties, or does it mean that we have to constantly breach the fine line to provoke a reaction?

Such is the case of the controversial cartoons in Denmark. If you've not seen nor read about it then I won't bother reiterating, but a series of cartoons depicting the Prophet considered as blasphemous, was published in Denmark to incite that very reaction. A lot of people have come to the conclusion that even though the violence that ensued was unnecessary, or showed the evil side of Islam, it is my personal belief that it shouldn't have been published in the first place. The fact is that the situation could have been contained if the right people have stepped in to diffuse the situation, but defiance increases rage, incites anger, provokes violence.

So what is free speech? We never really are free. If you read Time this month you'll find that no matter how diverse our culture, how open or closed our society is, or how much freedom of speech is allocated, you will never really be free. Take for example Denmark where this all started, quote 'you can do jail time for publicly "ridiculing or insulting" any recognized community's religious beliefs' unquote. This is the kind of double standard that prevails, no matter how liberal you think you really are.

I read something that struck me as immediately funny, it was actually a journalistic snafu of a tragic event. A girl was killed in a road accident, that's no laughing matter. But here's an excerpt of what I found to be particularly humorous:

"Meanwhile, state traffic chief Supt Baharuddin Sarbaini said the accident occurred when the MPV hit a cow and skidded before colliding with an on-coming trailer.

The cow died."

Is this the preamble to freedom of speech in this country? The cow died? If journalists find that they have nothing to say, then they have a long way to go until they can really make a statement, because they are probably not ready to deal with the immense power from the realization of this freedom that is given to them.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

the deflowering of love

straight ahead i look away,

flower peddlers on valentines day,

roses, red, all wrapped in foil,

just like i remembered as a boy.

the crap you send to girls in school,

trying to sell me now, this fool,

i keep walking, i see more,

stuffed toys spilling out of the store.

its unfortunate, as you can see,

the florists, opportunists, filled with glee,

the suckers who would lose their stash,

to these opportunists who deals with cash.

then i start to think, a slight distraction,

tonight, how many people will get some action,

for all the love that's been bought today,

how many of them would get their way.

thank the media, the suckers, and the dodgy flower man,

for participating, all of them! in this scam,

because valentine's day just seems to be,

the prelude to a huge global orgy.