Monday 08 August 2022

Freedom of expression – no matter what?

C. Schembri has SOMETHING TO SAY about freedom of expression. Should it be tolerated no matter what, or are there times when it crosses the line?

As things currently stand, whether you love or hate Gordon Manche, you must have formed an opinion about him. The petition he presented recently to MPs outside parliament, signed by 10,500 individuals, has raised furious debate. Manche, the River of Love – Christian Fellowship leader, is seemingly adamant that the Civil Unions Bill will not stand. Basically, his premise seems to be that homosexual people should not have a right to adopt children.

Let me start by saying that I believe in Freedom of expression, with a capital ‘F’. Hence, Gordon Manche is exercising his democratically given right to express what he believes in and can rally as many supporters as he pleases to his cause. But in all honesty, is the man doing himself any favours? Starting with the banner his followers held which read ‘God loves everyone but not everything’ (Alla jhobb lill kulhadd imma ma jhobbx kollox) during one of his interviews with The Times of Malta. The expression, loosely translated, is enough to set your teeth on edge. It’s worse when interpreted in a Maltese context, because the expression usually implies – we have had enough of your behaviour and we will not tolerate any more of it. Now I seem to think that a Christian God is loving, accepting and non discriminatory – unless that is my version of it.

Something else which he said made me cringe at the behest of all adoptive parents on the island, ‘kids aren’t an object which you import from Russia, China etc..’. Children are a gift, whichever part of the world they come from, regardless of them being biologically related to their parents.  He seemed to imply that parents adopting kids is similar to treating them like an object which can be availed of and disposed of easily. I do not believe that adoptive parents have this mindset, whether they are hetero or homosexual.

Manche has made another interesting insinuation, that Joseph Muscat’s temporarily induced blindness at the Labour Party’s event held in Zurrieq, was somehow an act of God. He pulled this off by quoting the Bible on Facebook underneath a ToM update: “And Jesus said, ‘For Judgement I have come into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may be made blind.” The good pastor did say afterwards that he is praying for the healing of all involved, and that someone must have altered his Facebook post because it included other comments. I would like to see the Pastor stare directly into floodlights for a minimum of five minutes, I wonder if he ‘may be made blind’ then. I fear, from my limited knowledge of the Bible, that Gordon Manche may still be equating his God with a vengeful Old Testament God. This sort of God would condemn a lot of things which we now deem perfectly legitimate, despite being good Roman Catholics. But I really do not think he/she/it will condemn an, admittedly, unconventional family type, as long as it is the loving, nurturing type.

So what I am saying is that yes, Freedom of expression is not selective, it should apply to everyone. But perhaps we should consider that there is a line which needs to be drawn somewhere, and there is a moment when as Maltese people we should be careful of the ludicrous. We have already, I think, entertained individual eccentricities which incite hatred towards certain groups of people, and I do not think it benefits anyone in particular.

Personally, I have signed the counter petition, which can be found here. Everyone deserves loving, irrespective of where and whom it comes from.


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