27 January 2010

Freedom of speech


RabbiLecture.jpg.JPG
Originally uploaded by bobmendo
Let 'em speak! That's the idea of the concept of 'freedom of speech.' It's a work in progress here in Australia. Although there is no legal statement of such in any Bill of Rights, it's been a right that is assumed. But that right is being challenged as reported today in the news.

A row has exploded between retailing groups about politicians making public appearances in shopping malls.

Shopping Centre Council of Australia executive director Milton Cockburn told News Limited newspapers that shopping centre managers had to ensure patrons could visit centres without interference or harassment.

But the national executive director of The Retailer's Association, Scott Driscoll, said local politicians were only in the shopping centres for a short amount of time to connect with the real people.

Can a politician speak about his issues on such private property as shopping centres?

On another topic, George Brandis is taking on Julia Gillard, Deputy Prime Minister of Australia. It has to do with yesterday's comments by the opposition leader, Tony Abbott and his opinion that pre-marital sex is wrong for young ladies. Asked if Ms Gillard had children she would see the issue differently, Senator Brandis replied: “I think so. I think that any parent I can imagine would agree with Tony Abbott.”

“I think people are entitled to know what their politicians think and beyond the narrow range of issues about public policy but it's, it is just bizarre - bizarre - to say that because a person, a politician says, 'well, this is my particular view about this particular moral issue,' they are somehow forcing their morality down other people's throats. Nonsense.”

Mr Abbott has also hit back at Ms Gillard's criticism of the remarks, noting the deputy prime minister was speaking as a politician, while he was speaking as a parent.

The Liberal leader's interview with The Australian Women's Weekly on pre-marital sex, abortion and maternity leave has sparked a national debate about his socially conservative views on pre-marital sex.

End of the day we all have the right to speak. I value that freedom. Pictured in this blog is Rabbi Harold Vallins, a friend from the UK, who graduated and got smicha (rabbinic ordination) from Leo Baeck and moved to Melbourne and then led the liberal Jewish congregation in Moorabbin. He started a family and then, in 1996 or 1997( I forget), came to faith in Jesus. His freedom to believe what he wanted and his freedom to speak about his convictions got him in trouble. He lost his wife and kids, the courts saw to that. Harold lost his congregation and thankfully found fellowship in the Body of Messiah in Melbourne and then many places in Australia and beyond.

Harold died in 2009 and I miss him. I was grateful he came to Sydney and helped me one night at an "Ask the Rabbi" night we sponsored. We worked at various meetings and had good fellowship.

God gives us the right to speak about what we believe. Of course, the octogenarian in Horsham who told police he was late to an appointment and as a result had to drive at 150 kph, then changed his story in court this week to 'falling asleep'...well that's another story. Ron Bell, 80, said his life has been destroyed by his act of hooning last July and he can no longer go to bowls or church.

It's important for us to have the freedom to speak and to speak the truth. The judge down in Horsham,Magistrate Richard Pithouse said this was the most "nonsensical'' excuse he had ever heard.

Mr Pithouse said Bell's legacy would be "the fool who speeded''.

Friends, let's use the freedom to speak. Let's speak the truth like Harold Vallins did. And Tony Abbott. And Jesus. He even claimed to BE the Truth. In John 14. 6 we read the words of Jesus, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, no one comes to the Father but by Me."

Wow, what a claim. What chutzpah. What Truth!

1 comment:

Athol (Aharon Yosef) said...

Sad to read of the death of Rabbi Vallins. I met him years ago in Melbourne. I am a Catholic Jew or Hebrew Catholic. very interesting blog.