Sunday, August 19, 2012

Cyber bullying laws--think carefully before acitng.

Most of us would agree that cyber bullying (and all forms of bullying) can be pretty damaging and in the worst case scenario, life threatening. The Government is now saying g that they are seeking to pass legislation to deal to the perpetrators. I say---stop, and think of the ramifications.
The practical side of me would think of how and who is going to police this. If there is going to be some sort of special court then it is going to be an incredibly busy one and will soon be clogged up with cases and appeals. Would this Government even come close to financing such an endeavour?
The proposals don’t even include kids under 14 so what happens with them? We can be sure that many of this group are well versed in social media and would make up a large proportion of the bullying and the bullied.
The bullying debate is engendering a great deal of emotion and under these circumstances, I doubt that we are going to get ‘useable law,’ especially if it is hurried. There needs to be a huge mind-shift to allow for society to accept that bullying is ‘not on.’ There are many parents, teachers and institutions who still believe that kids should harden-up and be more resilient. Until society as a whole rejects all forms of bullying we are not going to see effective measures, simply by passing a law or two.
I am fully in support of school running anti-bullying programmes, but I doubt that the will is there on the part of the Government to resource such initiatives.
The advent of cell phones and other forums that act as ‘bullying platforms,’ is a huge issue. Texting and ‘Face booking’ are beyond the control of schools. Schools are merely the recipient of what society sends us to mould, teach and nurture. How are we to influence what comes through the gate? Is this not yet another example of ‘dump it on the schools to fix?’ We cannot, unless we are part of an overall movement to keep our kids safe.
Please make this debate one that includes the whole community and please--- take the time that it deserves. One thing we can be sure of is that social media will come up with other forms of technology that we can barely dream about at this stage. It is going to take ‘great minds’ and an incredibly huge leap of faith for society as a whole before we get to the real problem.

Freedom of speech at risk in Russia and the West.

If you have read my blogs about Pussy Riot and the danger to free speech in Russia, I think it is only fair that I point out the obvious parallel in the West. Julian Assange is hiding out in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London and if he sets foot outside he will be arrested and extradited to Sweden to face charges. From there he will be extradited to the USA where he faces charges that carry the death sentence.
Julian has a lot of enemies in Government circles around the world, simply because he is a modern day ‘whistle blower.’ His organization is responsible for embarrassing many governments and that is the basis for the actions being taken against him.  He may be Australian but even his government is doing little to help him. It seems that they too have been on the end of his ‘press releases.’
Potentially Julian is facing far more dire consequences than Pussy Riot does in Russia. The USA has made noises about the Pussy Riot situation, but at the same time is extending its influence over the Assange dilemma. Perhaps the USA and the UK should look at themselves before they go off at the Russians.
The right of citizens to speak out against the perceived failings of their governments is at risk in many countries; ones that purport to being paragons of virtue when it comes to free speech. There is a need for them to examine their own positions before they strike out at other nations. The silence from our New Zealand Government is also deafening on this issue.
Hopefully the power of the masses will keep this important issue in the lime light.