Who should have their say…who decides

voltaire quoteIf you believe in

1/ the freedom of speech,
2/ the rights of any individual to hold whatever view they so desire, and
3/ the right to do so when ever they feel such views should be aired,

then what do you do when views are expressed to you that are generally considered to be beyond the pale.

Under such circumstances who has the right to have their say, and whois to decide whether their voice or opinions should be heard

I have spoken before about such matters in such posts as Human Rights-whose do we observe, and Free Speech Rules Ok, but a recent conversation with a co-worker left me deep in thought and rather disturbed.

The gentleman concerned is in his 30’s and we were viewing a group of “mentally handicapped” individuals as, with their carers or caregivers, they walked round the store. I had far more sympathy with their condition than my colleague, as I have had my own troubles with severe depression in the past, but I was disturbed to hear him coming out with simplistic views on eugenics, euthanasia and patient selection based on mental awareness and capacity and their ability to lead fully independent lives.

Under certain circumstances I would have been severely tempted to refute such views but as he spoke I came to a couple of rather sobering realisations

  1. Did I have the right to try and correct his views or silence him
  2. As his views were born out of historical ignorance should I have “re-educated ” him and, in doing so
  3. What right did I have, if any , to say he was mistaken in his views, and to say that he should adjust his views

By my own admission I went for a compromise solution, a very uncomfortable solution, yet on which seemed to be the best on the day.


  1. I gently questioned him about his attitude and reminded him of  historical eugenic processes, and The ActionT4 program within Nazi German
  2. I enquired as to where any line of incapacity should be drawn as regards Physical disability or illness (should such ,loathsome terms be applied.
  3. I very carefully pointed out that as he had never been in such shoes it was very difficult for him to understand their position, or speak worth any authority as to what benefits they might bring to society as a whole.
  4. Finally I reminded him of several pertinent points of history, and indicated where, if he chose to do so, further information might be found

Why was I so carefull and gentle, well, see below

  1. I had to still work alongside him
  2. I have come to know him well, and I know such views are born out of ignorance rather than any kind if racism, shallow thought, or cruelty to those with a percieved disability
  3. I was loathe to deny him a freedom of thought and speech which I myself wished to both enjoy and deploy, and
  4. Though I disliked his solution and simple reasoning, I could see that he was trying to find a solution to a problem of prolonged health care which will undoubtedly increase over the years

So in this post which is full of unresolved questions, I pose another such series of questions, about which I would love to hear your views

  1. What would you said had you been in my shoes
  2. How much freedom of thought ans speech should br granted to any individual
  3. Should any subjects or views be considered off limits or universally unacceptable
  4. If so, what subjects, and where should such a line be drawn


Happily, I can can report that he stated that I had given him something to think about, but whatever the final result of our conversation, the core problems raised within this post remain.

So if you have time, and you wish to do so, help me out here, as without any question, I find myself precariously balancing between several stools.

Oh yes, one last thing. You will see that I have put in two You Tube videos, both of which are intense in nature. I make no apologies for doing so, as they reflect serious issues which affect us all.









Categories: Just a thought

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

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