It is often said that in Australia we live in a free society. Yet over the decades I have seen freedom of speech, thought and movement erased by stealth. This trend to control people is very dangerous. Our politicians and governments who should protect the electorate’s freedom are often the very ones who are taking it away.
As one who was born post WWII, I can reflect growing up in the 50s, 60s and into the 70s and how much freedom we had compare to what now exists. Those who were born in the post 90s understand very little how it was.
The past decades were far from being a perfect world. Alcoholism was a very serious social issue. Pondering on this fact I put a lot of it down to the war. Men returning in their hundreds of thousands, adjusting back into civilian life, endeavouring to adapt without a great deal of social help and with severe psychological problems turned to alcohol. Yet we were a united nation….true there were divisions, Labour versus Liberal, Catholic and Protestants, but these divisions were not out of control. The tensions between Catholics and Protestants were played out on the school boy’s football field with perhaps a black eye as a result. Today in modern Australia we are divided not only on race, but culture, sexual orientation and religion. We don’t seem to be able to agree on anything. I have seen my country once united now developed into a country divided.
The social manipulators tell us this is all very good, but it has produced severe tensions and frictions. I am reminded what Christ said (as endorsed by Abraham Lincoln) “a house divided against itself cannot stand”. I much prefer the wisdom of Christ than that of the politically correct.
There was little fear in previous years of being frightened in what you said and wrote and having now near fifty years of published experience I know how it has changed. Today you can be prosecuted and persecuted for speaking one’s mind and having an opinion, particularly with the legislative powers of 18C (federal) and Section 17 here in Tasmania which is even more repressive than the former.
One could move about without the horrid control which exists now. In those days a trip to the airport was pleasant. Now it is an unfriendly place where one is looked upon with suspicion. Tasmanian Parliament House you could walk in as you wish; now you have to go through rigid security and to leave, your access is blocked, which I think is quite illegal impeding your right of progress. This is all because of “terrorism “, yet I wonder whether this is often used as an excuse.
Going to a place of entertainment like football or cricket can also be unpleasant. Security guards even approach one outside the stadium to check your bags (again I believe this quite illegal as you are on a public place). Once in, you are a captured audience exactly the same with the Hobart Cup. In past years one was able to take one’s own beverages, now it is not permitted forcing everyone to buy what is offered at inflated prices.
There was very little control in past days when attending local football. It was fun and casual with only a constable or two in sight. Now there are dozens and dozens of security guards of dubious talent. Something has happened to society.
The other issue which one did not have to content with was drugs. Even in my early twenties, I never came across the scourge. Today of course they are everywhere, even with primary school children, resulting in crime that is often brutal in the extreme.
A couple of years ago I went to a book launch at a primary school where the author told the students they have the right to say what they want without being threatened. That may have been the case, but it is not so today. With political correctness, people are fearful of repercussions if they speak up, try to contest the status quo or act independently. Of course, most of us will agree to the concept of freedom of expression, but herein lays the problem; most will only tolerate freedom of expression if that opinion agrees with them. We are afraid of offending others who have a variety of ways to silence those who offended them and take vengeance. Yet freedom of expression can only exist when one has the right to offend. People have become too sensitive and too self-centred. I never thought I would live to see the day when Australia had to pass legislation to protect freedom of religion.
Mankind’s march for freedom began thousands of years ago. Socrates faced it, even in liberal Classic Athens, by questioning the gods. He was convicted and died as a result. Yet through those thousands of years, the inborn desire for freedom has always been present and won not only on the battlefield, but through the corridors of power. Both Benedict Spinoza and English Liberal John Locke developed a political theory where natural rights were protected by governments. However, with the growing power and interference of governments, the opposite is happening. Our rights are actually not only being curtailed but being taken away from us. The weakness of the party system is of course that most politicians will do exactly what their party tells them to do. If you don’t, you will not survive within the system.
Political correctness, which is simply people control, now dominates the entertainment industry, corporate Australia, advertising, art, science, professional sport, the public service and education. That is why it is imperative to safeguard the freedom of the press.
Things have certainly changed and one can site much more. If they continue as they do, I can see us entering a new dark age. Freedom will only come if the people take a stand. The hunger for freedom cannot be stifled regardless of the efforts of those in control and it is deliberate; it is not happening by accident.