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Are we taking freedom of speech too far?

I believe in freedom of speech, but the content and tone of some of the blogs, letters to the editor, anonymous comments, etc concerns me. I am disturbed by the amount of hate, vitriol, negative sentiment that I hear, see, sense and feel in the tone and language used by some people in those forums.

I, of course, write my column using a pen name. The difference is that if you really want to know my identity you can easily find it. With anonymous bloggers and letters to the editor, you cannot.

But if you read these freedom of speech submissions, any right-thinking person can only conclude that there is a lot of hate, bitterness and deep-seated bigotry in some of the comments.

One is left to wonder if people would say these things in the public domain. There is a case to be made in giving such persons the following advice: If you’re not willing to stand on a soapbox, national TV or public place and say what you’re writing, you may want to consider the possibility that your sentiments have no place in today’s and tomorrow’s world.

During the PLP’s tour of duty as Government, there was a lot of hate mail negative sentiment and critical commentary questioning many of their decisions and actions. To be fair, I would have to say that many of those decisions and actions were such that they should be questioned. However, it is not what you say but how you say it. It is not what you do but how you do it. I will go as far as to say that there was an obvious dislike of the PLP Government by a segment of the population and this no doubt manifested itself in the comments. The MPs, Senators and other public servants were not accorded the same level of respect as their UBP counterparts.

Here’s one of the benefits of the Bermuda Regiment: We learned you can dislike the individual but you must respect the office that they hold and act in such a way as to show respect, decorum and deference towards it. We all did this on the UBP’s watch but we didn’t really do it so well between 1998 and 2012. I’m just keeping it real; don’t hate or shoot the messenger.

I would say that the anonymous bloggers went crazy after December 17, 2012. But guess what? I am not surprised at all. People who were afraid to say certain things during the PLP’s watch suddenly felt free to go full throttle now that they were no longer in power and in position to administer reprisals for anyone who may have said too much or gotten out of line.

I should remind the Country that the PLP were only a handful of votes away from remaining in Government. December 17 was not like a 10-0 football match. If the PLP got their act together and got ALL their people out to vote, they could form the Government again in five years.

Remember that old adage never kick a man when he is down; people do remember.

The One Bermuda Alliance Government should be held to the same standard and treated to the same level of individual and collective scrutiny that the previous administration was privileged to enjoy. If this happens, then we know that we are really politically mature. Political maturity isn’t about holding the party you don’t like accountable, it’s about, among many other things, holding all parties, representatives, public servants, et al accountable, without prejudice and without fear or favour.

I like the fact that people seem to be paying more attention to politics and the actions of our representatives and would be representatives. This is good and healthy. But let’s not be disrespectful to any public servant, because although they know the game they are getting into, those who hold particular offices should be treated with a certain degree of respect, even if we don’t like the persons or the party they represent.

I totally support freedom of speech, but I have to remind my colleagues that journalists and the media’s editors have a duty to ensure the highest standards of integrity, proper conduct, proper speech, decorum, decency and simply what is fair and right, in making sure that people are not taking freedom of speech too far. People can write what they want but we don’t have to let the public receive submissions that are not appropriate and we don’t have to give bigots, racists and others who practice the unwanted ISMS, a mechanism to spread their vitriol to all and sundry.

And now, the Top 20

Up to #1 is

Scream and Shout by will.i.am and Britney Spears.

Tumbling to #2 is

Right Now by Rihanna and David Guetta.

On the way up at #3 is

F*ckn Problems by A$ap Rocky.

Falling to #4 is

Thrift Shop by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis featuring Wanz.

Up to #5 is

Bring It To Me by Kes and the Band.

Improving to #6 is

She Ready by Machel Montano

Falling to #7 is

Don’t You Worry Child, by the Swedish House Mafia featuring John Martin.

Improving to #8 is

Surge by Clockwork featuring Wynter Gordon.

Down to #9 is

Nah Go Change (One Cent) by Demarco

Improving to #10 is

Suit and Tie, by Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z.

Down one space to #11 is

Don’t Stop The Party, by Pitbull.

Stay, by Rihanna, tumbles to #12.

Improving to #13 is

Harlem Shake by Bauer.

Climbing to #14 is

Started from the Bottom by Drake.

On the way up at #15 is

Sweet Nothing by Calvin Harris featuring Florence Welch.

Slipping to #16 is

Beauty and a Beat by Justin Bieber and Nicky Minaj.

Way up to #17 is last week’s essential new tune,

As Your Friend by Chris Brown featuring Afrojack.

Falling to #18 is

Drive Me Crazy by Beenie Man.

Down to #19 is

Let It Go, a new one from Beres Hammond.

Tumbling to #20 is

Locked out of Heaven by Bruno Mars.

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Published April 05, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated April 04, 2013 at 7:27 pm)

Are we taking freedom of speech too far?

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