Pastor's pen for 11th July - Hate Speech

Photo by Andre Hunter on Unsplash

There has been a mild media flurry about a revision to existing Hate Speech laws proposed by the government. Churches and other community organizations generally take more than a passing interest in this type of legislation, in order to monitor whether or not genuine free speech will be impacted by such innovations.

In the era of 'cancel culture', it must be a nightmare for any politician, comedian, celebrity or other famous person who has been around since the last century to have to think back over all the public things they have said or written for fear of a literal or virtual book-burning of all their utterances if they are found to be hateful (i.e. not very cool anymore).

Speaking personally as someone who is quite good at mimicking accents and savours the delicious art of sarcasm, the whole thing is a living nightmare. I am reduced to taking the mickey out of the British because I am actually one, and we never seem to mind laughing at ourselves. I'm thankful most of my worst humour is forever lost in the pre-digital Jurassic era.

Joking aside, there are some things I do hate. Relax, they are systemic, rather than directed at any person. Also I don't wish to incite violence, just eye-rolling and discussion. Listening to submissions to the Justice Select Committee this morning, as part of their review of the previous election, I was reminded that I hate the way the two major parties have the deck stacked in their favour in terms of resources, staff and advertising power. With the 5% threshold in place, innovative voices are stifled. With the media playing the (totally inappropriate) role of deciding who gets to speak in televised debates, only those with existing power get to speak. The electoral commission is possibly derelict in its duty.

I hate the way the two major political parties continue to play their tit-for-tat game over things like the housing crisis. They need to work together for a lasting, whole of country solution. For the record, I vote for neither of them. They lack creativity and fresh ideas. Talk of addressing poverty, crime and social deprivation are a waste of airtime until all people have the opportunity to live with some semblance of dignity. I'm kind of disappointed that the younger politicians from both sides I know personally, are keeping their heads down and parroting the expected party lines with an absolute clichéd vengeance. This is most hatefully tiresome to me. Yawn....

My question for us, the church, is how can we say 'enough!' and stop propping up the self-interested status quo and genuinely engage with issues of justice for all people from a biblical, Christian perspective?

OK rant over, my excuse is I have a birthday tomorrow and I'm turning into a very grumpy old geezer. <wanders off muttering>

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