Posts Tagged ‘truth’

THE SPEECH OF TRUTH

July 31, 2017

2017-07-31TruthTaras Shevchenko, the Ukrainian poet, once predicted that his country would be lullabied into sleep by ‘evil people’ and then woken up to discover that it had been robbed and was on fire. The ‘evil people’, for Shevchenko, were Russians. Two hundred years after the poet’s prediction, another enemy, alongside Russia, is rising in Ukraine’s way: this time, Ukraine catches fire again and the arsonist is radical liberalism. Liberal ideology, with its values, language and censorship is becoming more and more tangible here in Ukraine. Liberal concepts are being implemented on the level of government, through well-financed organizations and with an active support of the media. They also impinge on the Ukrainian law.

Of late, the notion of ‘hate speech’ encroaches on the Ukrainian press. Demurely, the word combination is translated from English into Ukrainian as ‘speech of hostility’ (‘мова ворожнечі’), and is mostly a means to silence the truth. Since the times of classical liberalism, its advocates had insisted that they opposed censorship and upheld freedom of expression, of thought and of conscience. Not admitting that their censorship is a censorship, they cry wolf and lay all faults at the door of those who call things by their true names. With the ‘hate-speech’ label, liberals denounce any idea that contradicts their dogmas. If I, as a Christian, say that homosexuality is a sin, they say I use ‘hate speech.’ If I say that immigrants from Asia and Africa must respect the people and the laws of a country which welcomes them, but not go brazen, the liberals call it ‘hate speech.’

In the Ukrainian context, the liberal-minded journalists say we can’t call our soldiers fighting the Russian troops in Donbas ‘our heroes’, just as we can’t call the Russians or their allies in Donbas “aggressors’, ‘invaders’ or ‘terrorists.’

Should the doctrine of liberalism be implemented (which is actively done in a number of industrialized countries!), people may get disarmed in the face of Evil and lose their ability of adequately evaluating events. On the other hand, being the backbone of the modern civilization, Christianity teaches that it’s wrong to be ‘overcorrect’ where you should be categorical. In Matthew 23, Jesus does not mince words when he addresses the Pharisees:

“…you hypocrites…you, blind guides… You blind fools! …inside they (the Pharisees) are full of greed and self-indulgence… You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean.  In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness… “ And further: “You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell? Please, notice: not ‘alternatively devout’, but ‘brood of vipers.’

 My feeling is that these words are spoken today and about what is happening now.

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FREEDOM – SO FAR

September 20, 2012

ImageThis night I dreamed I visited a “gastronom” – a Soviet-style food shop. There was a huge crowd inside. People were queuing up to buy bread and bottled milk (the only products which were there). The victuals were sold from behind the counter by the military personnel: civilian shop-assistants had been dismissed.

Of course, the real Soviet life had been less gloomy: the assortment still contained basic necessities and soldiers were never employed as salesmen.  Neither do I think there’ll be a return to “gastronoms” in this country: at the moment boutiques and supermarkets are mushrooming all over the Ukrainian capital. However, my dream had a very realistic basis: the political and social atmosphere in Ukraine is getting more and more like it was in the then-USSR. Yesterday saw another landmark on the road to suppressing freedom here: a bill entitled ”On Slander” was submitted to Parliament. According to the bill, conscious spreading of deliberately untrustworthy information that defames honour and dignity of another person may be punishable by a prison term of up to five years. That might sound reasonable if you forgot that courts in Ukraine are rubber-stamping sentences decided upon by the powers-that-be.  If any ruling party official (even on a local level) doesn’t like a critical remark in the media about himself, he can sue the “culprit”, and there can be no doubt what the decision of the court will be.

I liked a sarcastic observation concerning the richest person in Ukraine Renat Akhmetov which I came across on the Internet today. Mr. Akhmetov, a member of the Ukrainian parliament, is known NEVER to attend ANY of its meetings. However, he is always registered as the one who votes – by proxy, of course: he “has entrusted” his electronic card to party comrades who do the job instead of him, which is illegal in itself. So, officially, Renat Akhmetov “participated” in voting on the aforementioned bill, though he didn’t attend physically. The Internet journalist writes: “If I say that Renat Akhmetov didn’t vote this time, will it be a truth or a slander?”

Journalists say that, if implemented, the law will turn all newspapers into Pravda-like information sheets, and it will kill the very profession of a journalist (“Pravda” was the central organ of the Communist Party in the Soviet Union).

The law, which is to become operative on December 1 this year, may affect not only journalists, but 80 per cent of rank-and-file Ukrainians. What if I give my estimate of a leading politician in an email? Or if I post an unflattering political blog? The comforting thought is that I have at least two months when I can fear no repercussions. Two months of freedom.


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