Wednesday, February 08, 2006

For Freedom of Expression

I think that it is very important to make a stand for freedom of expression in the current political climate. Posting this image is part my stand. I want to make a positive contribution to the ongoing struggle for free speech across the globe, and in Australia. With the introduction of Anti-Sedition Laws by Howard's government, the danger in Australia today is not so much whether fringe extremist groups of whatever persuasion will abuse their freedom to speak freely by inciting hatred and terror.

Rather, the greatest danger comes from the increased powers to restrict our freedoms being claimed by a neo-liberal government whose ideology has seen it pursue Aboriginal rights, trade union and workers' rights, refugee rights, gay and lesbian rights,
and the right to cultural diversity into the deepest, darkest corners of despair in this country.

Globally, we have seen the multi-headed Hydra of censorship and self-righteous haranguing by neo-conservatives, the Christian right, Muslim conservatives and extremists, and various extremists from across the religious spectrum. They have pursued an agenda of intollerance and suppression of those they disagree with. Security laws, vitriolic suppression of fr
ee expression and outright violence are their arsenal.

Perhaps it is going out on a limb here, but the reaction of the Islamic radicals to the publications of cartoons satirising Mohammed, and the introduction of Sedition laws here in Australia are two sides of the same coin. They only serve to diminish us, as they diminish our capacity to express ourselves freely, openly and in good faith, as humans.

This image is from a campaign postcard from nearly a decade ago: the Campaign to Defend the Rabelais Editors. When I was a student at University, my friends and fellow activists, who were the elected editors of the student paper, Rabelais, were charged for publishing material in the magazine that was subsequently denied classification – i.e. banned. The campaign ran long and hard. The image is from an action that saw the famous Melbourne statues, Three businessmen who brought their own lunch, gagged. (I've forgotten who took the photo!)

In the spirit of free expression, I encourage you to download the image and post it on your blog/website or email it to friends. Please do ackowledge where you got it from, so that people can see why it's been posted and know its history. Please also drop me a comment to let me know if you have posted it somewhere.

More about Australia's Sedition laws here.

The Brussels Journal, a coalition of journalists have followed the Danish cartoon controversy here (warning, they have republished the cartoons, so be aware of what you're visiting or linking to...)


At February 10, 2006 12:14 am, Blogger clairen said...

thought you might be interested in this debate on a friend's blog about the cartoons issue:

click on the comments for an very extensive discussion.

At February 10, 2006 11:50 am, Blogger Mark Lawrence said...

Thanks Claire, that exchange of comments was interesting. Good to hear from you!

At February 14, 2006 9:02 pm, Blogger clairen said...

glad you had a look. i did make a 2nd contribution but it was lost in cyberspace so might put something on my own blog sometime soon.

x c


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