Looking cursorially at the newspaper headlines about Abu Qatada, the ‘hate preacher’ who was enflaming Muslims against the western Infidels, I’m struck with an interesting thought.People have, predictably, made the knee-jerk response that ‘People should not be allowed to preach hatred like that’ and comments of that ilk. What fascinates me is how, yet again, most folks don’t think it through.
Yes, the man is unquestionably a shady character and having him peddle his ideologies to the impressionable can be seen as a Bad Thing. On the other hand, the canned response points to a deeper problem within society at large: the steady decline of personal responsiblity.
Over the past couple of decades, Britain has been seeing this happen more and more. Political correctness, increased health and safety legislation, personal injury lawyers, schools held solely responsible for kids’ education… The list goes on.
The problem with all this is that people have been conditioned into believing that it’s someone else’s responsibility. Have a fall? It’s the council’s fault for not maintaining the pavements. Kids doing badly at school? The teachers aren’t doing their job.
The notion that it’s somehow your responsiblity to watch where you’re going, even if there is ‘inadequate lighting’ or that occasionally your child needs help with their homework or to be told that certain behaviours are Bad hardly arises in peoples’ minds.Coming back to Abu Qatada: while he is, by subjective measures – i.e. my opinion – a really messed up individual who probably needs psychiatric care, I wouldn’t stop him from doing his thing. Because ultimately, the people have to decide what to believe. You can’t tell them that, even ‘for their own good’. Down that road lies The Peoples’ Glorious Bureau Of Truth and similar orwellian constructs.
Does my opinion differ so wildly from yours that you’re frothing at the mouth with incoherent rage? Great! Differences of opinion make for fascinating debate, ideas and a broadening of horizons. Ultimately, it is your choice whether to agree, question or dismiss my ideas. Same way that people should have the choice to listen to inflammatory speeches and laugh or to follow the teachings therein and accept the consequences of acting upon them.