Shame on us all for cowards.

Editor's Note: Two days after writing this I was talking with an australian friend of mine and he pointed out that there is absolutely no provision anywhere in Australian law for freedom of speech. So basically, until the people revolt and actually get something added to the federal body of law protecting their right to public speech, there's not a lot of room for them to maneuver here.

Also, I do realize that even in America where we do have protected freedom of speech, you can't yell fire in a crowded theatre and not expect consequences. What bothers me is that they are specifically trying to intimidate people who would make light of a situation, not ones who are insighting public unrest. Obviously if someone runs around yelling "I've got a BOMB!" the police will need to do what must be done. I'm not suggesting otherwise

While I was in the Sydney airport, I saw this sign.

Obviously this is a travel tale, but as it's going to become political in the very next sentence, so it's here instead of on the road.

Australians of Sydney, New South Wales, citizens one and all: shame on you for cowards.

Now, I'm not saying America is perfect. In fact, I'm pretty confident that if such a sign were put up in the Atlanta airport, most people would gulp down their fear, watch their tongues and hang their heads.

Last year, Boston, Massachusetts made itself the laughing stock of the country by hyperventilating and shutting down the city over the 'threat' of lite brite artvertisement (yes, I just made that word up) in public places. And Americans in other cities in other states rolled our eyes and said it was silly when we should have been calling for heads on platters over the shame of such hand wringing in any place where freedom and boldness were once valued societal and character traits.

And now, on the other side of the globe, I discover the same fear-mongering, watch-your-mouth-or-the-police-state-will-get-you tactics in another place that should be bold and proud of its incredibly strong culture society. You're Australia! You are a place where men--most given nothing but a prison sentence--carved a European civilization largely out of dust and dirt in one of the worlds most dangerous and demanding environments.

What right have you to be afraid?

That being said, now I must turn my criticism inward and downward, where I can do some damage and maybe inflict a little change.

I've never seen a sign like this yet in an American airport, and I hope I never do, but if I do, I hope that my readers will join me in making life awkward, embarrassing and uncomfortable for the writers and implementers of any such program, anywhere in a place where you have influence as a voting citizen.

I know I will feel I'm duty-bound to do so, and I hope you would all be willing to join me.

Thursday, July 30, 2009