Freedom of speech;

                Controlled or a right?


                Darkness in the light.

Expressing one’s views,

                Or muzzled and chained?

Free to speak out,

                Or heavily constrained?

Mustn’t show bias

                While delivering a show,

But in your own time

                Can you let it all go?

Opher 11.3.2023

The Gary Lineker outrage has really opened up a can of worms, hasn’t it?

I can see that it might be considered wrong for political broadcasters to display bias (like Fiona Bruce’s pro-Tory hosting of Question Time) but surely bias from others is questionable. Where would satire be? Monty Python, Spitting Image, The News Quiz?

It seems that is OK to express right-wing views but if you say anything anti-government then you are jumped on.

There must also be a difference between what is expressed in a programme or what is expressed outside of work.

Can presenters of any type be expected not to express their feelings on all manner of political subjects in their own time? Or should they be permanently muzzled?

We have had numerous ex-Tory Ministers going through that revolving door into broadcasting. We know what their views are and what they stand for. As long as they don’t express them on air then surely it’s alright?

Then we have the case of Emily Maitlass. She was ousted for expressing a view on Dominic Cummings that was shared by all but the most rabid Tories.

The BBC has been stuffed with Tories. Is it now moving overtly to be nothing more than a propaganda wing of the Tory Party?


Democracy – The long and often bloody fight for freedom – The Peterloo Massacre.


You can only have real democracy when you have transparency, fair representation and a vote for every man and woman. That was far from the case two hundred years ago.
Women were denied the vote. Only landowners could vote. Some towns with only a handful of voters were electing two MPs. Two towns electing two MPs each had only 1 eligible voter. Half of the MPs in the House were elected by a mere 154 votes. Cities with hundreds of thousands were grossly underrepresented.
The economic and employment situation in the North was dire and people felt they had no recourse to justice. They had no vote and no representation.
At St. Peter’s field near Manchester between 60,000 and 80,000 gathered to hold a peaceful public meeting and protest. The establishment was rattled. They thought it might develop into a riot, ferment general unrest and lead to a revolution. They banned it. But the protesters still met.
The cavalry were called to charge. People were trampled and slashed with sabres. The crowd was eventually dispersed. They left 11 to 15 dead and over 600 to 700 badly injured – 168 of which were women. The first to be killed was a baby knocked out of his mother’s arms by a charging cavalryman. Witnesses claimed the cavalrymen slashed out indiscriminately at anyone they could. The area was sodden with blood.
It became known as the Peterloo massacre in ironic contrast to the recent battle of Waterloo.

It led to renewed impetus for justice and the Chartist Movement who fought for the right to vote.

Freedoms and rights are not freely given. They are paid for with lives and blood and can so easily be stripped away again.

A Reasoned Argument in which I try to set out my views in response to personal freedom and control.

A Response to Neil Lock’s rant on liberty. You might want to read that first. Some I agree with. Some I don’t.

First, let me start by saying that I 100% agree with your aim of removing the greedy, corrupt parasites and pests from power.

I include all the wealthy elite who control politicians through donations, bribes, promises and threats – the wealthy elite who run the media and use it as a propaganda machine against the population thus completely undermining democracy.

I include all the greedy politicians who allow themselves to be bribed or threatened in their insane lust for power and wealth.

They are the parasites and pests I would remove.

I believe in freedom, tolerance, equality tempered with respect, responsibility and social justice.

I the whole of my life I have never seen such a corrupt bunch of greedy, lying politicians as we have had throughout this heinous Tory government. The sooner we are rid of this criminal bunch the better. They have robbed us blind while pandering to the wealthy elite. They have broken the public services with twelve years of cuts and created misery among working people with twelve years of needless austerity. At the same time they have been doshing out millions to Tory donors and wasting billions. The result is a broken Britain spawning millionaires, food banks, warm hubs, rough sleeping, zero hours contracts, superyachts, mansions and penthouses. The inequality they have created is staggering.

Now, to my first bone of contention. Why do you have to feature the Green Agenda as your biggest example of this leviathan of political corruption? Neil, this is you on your hobby horse and you are simply wrong on all counts. Why you choose to use this as your central plank is utterly beyond me. The environment is, as is quite clear from your education and life, an area way outside of your expertise and understanding.

Climate is not the crux of this issue. The wealthy elite are controlling a political system that is profoundly unfair. The politicians, their lackeys, are controlled and bought by them. The media is controlled by them and used to brainwash the population. That is the issue.

I think your stance, apart from not being the real issue and, as such, being a red herring, is also simply wrong.

I will explain.

First you need to understand where I am coming from.

A little biography.

I am foremost a naturalist in the same vein as Darwin, Gerald Durrell, Desmond Morris, Dian Fossey and Jane Goodall. I spent my childhood collecting slowworms, lizards, snakes, frogs, toads, caterpillars and sticklebacks. I had a menagerie of guinea pigs, mice, rats, rabbits, hamsters, crows and pigeons.

I love nature and I love animals.

I took all the sciences in school (chemistry, botany and zoology to A Level) and did a degree and further research in Zoology.

The environment is my area of expertise in the same way as maths is yours.

So I take great exception to some of the statements you glibly make about the environment and nature.

I find it incredible for you to say that you looked for evidence of global warming or species extinctions and could not find any.

That is absurd.

The evidence is abundant.

The earth is warming up. We are in the midst of a catastrophic collapse in all animal populations – invertebrates, fish, amphibia, reptiles, birds and mammals. The evidence is there and beyond dispute.

The science of the greenhouse gasses is also well established. There is little doubt that we are responsible and could, if we desired, alter this.

On a personal scale I have witnessed the tragic decline of animal populations in Britain – the slowworms, snakes, lizards, insects, frogs, newts, toads and butterflies have all declined radically in my lifetime. That is easily substantiated from numerous scientific studies.

I have, as a naturalist, also personally witnessed the massive destruction of habitats and decline in populations in numerous countries around the world – South America, Africa, Australia and Asia.

And no – I definitely do not believe we are superior to animals. We are animals. Our intelligence is maybe superior to most but that does not make us superior. It’s an attribute, that’s all. And it is an attribute that we have consistently misused to the detriment of most of us and all of the natural world. Intelligence has been used for making weapons and torturing people. That has scarred our whole history.

It is now being used to churn out trinkets for morons for profit at the expense of the planet. Every day is another buying opportunity. Greed and profit rule.

Instead of using our intelligence to solve problems like war and poverty we largely use it for mass destruction and for a tiny elite to have more wealth than they know what to do with.

That’s not intelligent.

You claim never to have personally made any animal extinct. But this is nonsense. You have.

You are putting forward the Bob Dylan ‘Who Killed Davey Moore?’ defence.

If the lethal dose of a poison is 100 units and one hundred people all deliver 1 unit. The person dies. It is no good all hundred people saying they weren’t guilty. None of them delivered a fatal dose but together they killed the person.

Thus it is with you and the other 8 billion people. Collectively, with your use of power, eating of food and purchase of goods (including a house) you are directly responsible for the clearing of forest, the spraying of crops, the mining, agriculture and commerce that is destroying nature at an alarming rate.

Your argument is fallacious.

Then, you have repeatedly claimed that A. there isn’t any global warming – which there obviously is. B. that is isn’t caused by us – as if the greenhouse effect is not correct or that it isn’t affecting climate – which it is. C. that some warming will not do us any harm – which it will.

You cite that back yonks ago it was warmer and everything prospered. Well yes and no. Times have changed.

Back then we did not have massive populations in cities by the sea dependent on huge areas of agricultural land.

When the seas rose it did not affect us. When the climate changed we moved.

The effects of climate change in the modern age will be catastrophic (not just for us but for the highly depleted populations of wildlife who are now nowhere near as resilient as they once were).

  1. It will cause extremes of weather – heat waves, cold snaps, storms, floods, hurricanes.
  2. It will cause some areas to become so hot that they are no longer habitable resulting in displacement of millions of people.
  3. It will result in desertification.
  4. Agriculture will be devastated in many regions.
  5. Rising seas will flood cities.
  6. Hurricanes will devastate countries.
  7. Huge floods, droughts and snowstorms.
  8. Forest fires
  9. Air and water currents will be affected (Gulf Stream for instance – a deflection of the Gulf Stream would cause us to have Siberian winters).

In Britain we could be colder in winter, hotter in summer with seasonal droughts and floods, cities threatened with flooding and a mass of immigrants looking to come here to escape heat and starvation. Agriculture will be hard hit with the flooding and droughts. Foo production will be down.

We are already starting to experience this. It will get a lot, lot worse.

It’s bad enough when previous global warming or glaciation was caused by natural means – solar activity, volcanic eruptions, asteroids. Not a lot we could do about that. But, as an intelligent species, to bring about catastrophic global warming and species extinctions through our own indulgence and stupidity is inexcusable.

I do have the background and credentials on environmental issues.

By placing this personal vendetta of yours against green issues I think you greatly undermine your whole argument about freedom and control.

We need to come together as a world against this existential threat. We can provide technological solutions that are cheap and effective. It is already happening. Sustainable energy is cheaper than fossil fuels. It just required kick-starting.

So what society do I want to live in?

I want to live in a community that gives me a lot of personal freedom and provides quality services at a cheap, efficient rate.

I want fairness, justice and equality.

I want to live in a tolerant society.

I want a responsible society.

I want a responsible, caring government and a democracy that delivers.

Hence I want more equality – a fairer society in which workers receive a fair wage for a fair day’s work. Where the elite do not rob us and politicians do not lie and do work for the people. I want the press/internet monitored for bias and lies and not in the control of the elite. I want political accountability and scrutiny. I want proportional representation so that every vote counts.

I want an end to racism and sexism.

I believe that most things are more efficient when deliver at scale. I would abolish all the public schools and private health so that the elite have to use the same facilities as us and are not trained to be superior and arrogant. That way, I believe the public services will be properly funded.

I’ve had to use the US health system – it is a hugely expensive disaster.

I have taught in the US schools – they are hugely expensive and foster inequality.

I want a properly funded Health and Education system. The systems at the moment are run on the cheap. The percentage GDP spent on them is not enough. As the world’s 7th biggest economy we can certainly afford quality. Because the elite pay for a superior model they are content to allow the public services to be poor. It’s only for the plebs. That also fosters greater inequality. They afford better futures for their sons and daughters at our expense. Their horizons are further, their contacts greater and opportunities more.

I want to end the privilege that produces this obnoxious arrogant elite.

I would also nationalise transport, power, and water to make them cheaper and more efficient. That way the profits do not go into the pockets of rich people living abroad and stuffing those profits into tax havens. It goes back into improving services and into the public purse.

I would block the tax loopholes so the wealthy pay all their taxes. Otherwise our taxes have to go up to cover their cheating.

I don’t mind paying taxes, even high levels of taxation, it that results in quality services, quality infrastructure, quality of life and there are no loopholes for the wealthy to avoid paying their share.

I want a global perspective to deal with global issues:

Tax evasion








Environmental issues – conservation, diversity etc.





These issues do not have national boundaries and cannot be dealt with by countries. They require global perspective.

I like the UN. It has lofty aims and ideals. It sets a tone and philosophy of fairness, tolerance and rights that I can identify with. I love its declaration of human rights.

Yes, like all institutions it has a level of corruption.

Yes, it is inefficient.

Yes, it hasn’t worked anywhere near as effectively enough.

Corruption is a problem in ALL systems. The only way of dealing with it is scrutiny, accountability, transparency and punishment.

I would like to see the UN made more accountable and effective and all corruption rooted out.

In terms of personal freedom I want to be informed of risks and left alone. I want to decide whether I want to drink, take drugs, smoke, have sex and eat healthily.

Having said that, I want unbiased information and quality product.

If I choose to take LSD I want it to be LSD not LSD with strychnine.

I want quality control and information – not propaganda and lies, and things left in the hands of unscrupulous criminals..

I want to know the risks.

I want my food clearly labelled and not full of pesticides, herbicides and poisons.

I want to know the health risks of poor diet and the calories so I can choose to live healthily.

In education, working with a lot of young kids, I have seen the effects of poor diets, poor exercise, paedophilia and sexual abuse.

I want guidance and controls to operate.

I do not want this to be down to the individual. Most people are stupid, gullible and easily led. By definition half the population have an IQ under 100. They need protecting from their own ignorance.

If sex was left without laws we’d have young girls and boys abused. They need protection.

We need age limits and laws regarding sex, drugs, alcohol, smoking and gambling and those have to be balanced against the freedoms of individuals in their own private spaces.

In my views the drug laws have been misused by the state to victimise and control. Drugs should be regulated but should be a health issue not a criminal one.

These are all areas for debate as regarding freedoms of the individual. It’s where you draw the line.

In public areas there is a difference. I am eternally grateful that smoking is banned. Quite apart from the health hazards, coming back from a gig stinking of smoke is no fun.

Having three sons who smoke due to advertising and peer pressure to look cool I can see the downside. Their addiction (from a young age) will have cost them a fortune and will ruin their health.

Walking through the city centre with bunches of aggressive, violent youths pissed out of their minds and girls tottering around paralytic, I am not enamoured with deregulation.

Gambling is another area that should be far better controlled. I’ve already had one of my son’s losing his flat because of gambling – losing thousands of pounds.

So I am not against The Nanny State. I do want alcohol, cigarettes, sex, food and gambling regulated.

They impinge directly or indirectly on my freedoms.

I was interested to read your history of the world and to realise that I don’t see these events in the same light as you Neil.

The start of the rot was, in my opinion, in the tribal system where it rapidly moved to a political structure with a superior chief and a religious shaman holding power and wealth.

Human beings have always been elitist and aggressive. As tribes we fought for territory. We followed leaders.

We further lost freedoms when we adopted agricultural. We gave up a fairly free and easy lifestyle as hunter gatherers for a life of worry and toil as farmers.

That meant we now had property to protect and we were at the mercy of thieves and brigands. So we banded together to develop defences against the freeloaders and murderers. That was the start of the supertribes that became states.

Out of that came war, taxes, bureaucracy and cities.

I don’t see that as a positive move.

The driver was an increase in population. Far too many to live as hunter-gatherers.

If I was to choose an ideal way of life it would be as a hunter-gatherer – certainly not a farmer or city/town dweller.

From there on in it has been a litany of control by a vicious elite – Kings and Religion.

We have been taxed for wars, taxed to keep an elite in luxury and taxed to preserve a superstitious bunch of mumbo-jumbo merchants in luxury. The church and state represent a wealthy elite who control us through laws, force and propaganda.

That’s where the thrust of your anger should be directed Neil.

Now we get to the nitty-gritty.

The Renaissance and Enlightenment freed us from a claustrophobic control by state and religion. But we still allowed that elite to get away with it.

The rise of democracy and trade unions brought some social justice and equality but we still allowed the elite to rule.

Freedom and justice has to be fought for. There’s a long bloody history for the right for social justice and rights.

The debate should be focussed on the ways in which we are being controlled – the algorithms, the use of propaganda, fake news, lies, the media and internet.

In terms of surveillance I’m undecided. I don’t care if people want to see what I’m looking at on the web. I don’t care if they film what I am doing. That can be good if it protects me from theft and violence. Indeed, one of my sons was acquitted from a crime of serious assault which could have put him in prison because of CCTV evidence.

The freedom aspect comes in with how this is being used, doesn’t it? Is the state watching us to protect us or control us? Do our algorithms enable political, religious propaganda to be directed specifically at us with fear and hate?

There’s the debate. Surveillance isn’t necessarily bad. The use of it might be.

I’m more concerned with the taking over of the BBC, Channel 4 and the tabloid press. That’s become a stream of Tory propaganda.

I’m more concerned with anti-union legislation and the laws against protest.

In my views the issues are not the environment or covid. These are the politicians and elite; inequality and injustice, control and freedom.

Covid was a global pandemic creating unique biological circumstances requiring isolation and vaccination. Fortunately it has mutated into a less lethal form. A future pandemic might be much more lethal. As a biologist I can see the necessary measures of masks, shutdowns and vaccination. The whole anti-lockdown movement was farcical. It wasn’t about freedom. It was based on ignorance and propaganda.

If the imposed restrictions were maintained after the epidemic then we have a freedom issue.

Another red herring.

In terms of the EU – I’m all in favour! I want freedom of movement and free trade without obstacles, tariffs or red tape.

I want to move freely, be able to work or study where I like. I want cheap easy trade.

Yes. I accept the EU is full of corruption and is undemocratic.

I go back to transparency, scrutiny and accountability.

That is where an unbiased decent media comes in. They should be investigating thoroughly and scrutinising what is going on – uncovering corruption. A decent legal system would lock up the corrupt.

In terms of the Welfare State I’m in favour.

I want people in need to be looked after. I want unemployment benefit, sickness benefit and those in need catered for. There is more than enough money it is just not distributed right.

I do not want to live in a society without compassion or empathy.

Having said that I want it all tightening up. Welfare is not there for scroungers. It is there for people in need. People able to work should be working or subsisting on their own. Unemployment should be short term.

Orwell was right. We now live in a world of propaganda, double-think and control run by a faceless elite. We have our hate hour, enemies and inequality.

We’re bought off with mobile phones, alcohol, soaps and strictly come dancing.

But Neil, I do wish you’d move the debate away from the red herrings of climate change and covid to the reality of this wealthy elite and how they are controlling us!

Today’s Music to keep me IIiiNnnnSssaaaaNnnEE – Tom Robinson Band – Power in the Darkness

Freedom is indivisible. If one person is deprived of their freedom we are all impoverished. Stand up for the rights of all. It’s a struggle.

Power in the Darkness!!

The Indivisibility of Freedom – The politics of hope!

The Indivisibility of Freedom – The politics of hope!

The indivisibility of freedom

                Is the state’s greatest demon.

One woman’s freedom is the freedom of us all.

                Bring down the wall!

The power of the powerless

                Is supreme.

It comes rising

                In an ecstatic scream.

Diversity and plurality

                Is the aim.

                                The purpose

                                                Of my game.

Like water dripping on a stone

                A million people

                                Are never alone.

The truth gradually erodes

                The lies

                                Until the future explodes.

At the end of the totalitarian rope

                We have the politics of hope.

Opher – 4.12.2022

I was watching Simon Schama last night. It does fill me full of shame at being a member of a species that is so disgusting. A history of war, exploitation and repression.

Through it all there is always a strand of hope. There are people prepared to stand up against totalitarianism, to risk it all for freedom.

Here’s to the brave Iranian girls waving their detested hijabs – the symbol of oppression.

Here’s to the artists, writers and musicians who make brave stands against fascism and totalitarian oppression in all its forms.

Here’s to Pussy Riot and the Plastic People, Roy Harper, Bob Dylan and Frank Zappa.

Here’s to the politics of hope!

Democracy – The long and often bloody fight for freedom – The Chartists. Please sign the petition!

Posted on  by Opher

The Chartist aims were simple; they wanted one man one vote for all men over the age of twenty one who were sane and not criminals and payment for MPs (So that those other than the extremely wealthy could stand).
That sounds very reasonable to me. I mean it wasn’t as if they were asking for votes for women. Heaven help us if anyone thought that women might be intelligent, knowledgeable or able to exercise the right to vote.
But no. Even this step was thought a step too far. The establishment believed that if you allowed the poor to vote they might vote for things that would stop them being poor. The only way they could be richer was by taking money out of the pockets of the wealthy. The idea was preposterous. Equality!! Freedom!!! Once one lot had it the rest would follow!! Before you knew it the eighteen year olds and women would be after the vote!! And then what??? The country would go to the dogs!!
Giving the vote to ordinary people was asking for trouble it threatened the status quo and had to be resisted.
We are only talking about the mid nineteenth century here. It’s not a thousand years ago. This was the time when only the wealthy were allowed to vote. Strangely they always voted to protect their own interests and keep ordinary people down. Inequality was rampant.
The Chartists did not believe in revolution or violence. They wanted to exert their power by sheer force of numbers. Their idea was to hold mass meetings and sign petitions. These petitions were signed by millions or ordinary people.
They demanded justice and empowerment
They wanted the right for all men to have a vote. For that to be made in secret and for the representation through the country to be fair.
It became a mass movement, particularly in the North, Midlands and South Wales.
Rejection of their demands by government led to strikes. There were some outbreaks of violence. The State hit back by imprisoning hundreds.
The Church, to its discredit, stayed out of the argument.
In 1848 the Chartists held a protest rally on Kennington Common attended by upwards of 150,000. A petition of an incredible 6 Million was handed in demanding the right to vote. It was ignored. The government ordered the deployment of troops and was prepared for an uprising. They feared a revolution along the lines of the continental revolutions.
It looked like the Peterloo massacre on a larger scale!
In the event it passed peacefully.
The Chartists did not achieve reform but they set a tone.
It wasn’t until 1867 that urban working men were given the vote and not until 1918 that we achieved one man one vote. We haven’t yet had a hundred years of power!

The rights of women took a lot more struggle and effort.

The rights we have are the result of the efforts of millions!! We should exercise them with great care. They are easily removed.

Oppression and Suppression

Oppression and Suppression

Oppression is necessary,

                Opposition a pain,

                                Suppression the answer.

Because freedom runs against the grain.

I like control!

                It’s just a game!

I deserve it all!

                Let others take the blame!

Because freedom runs against the grain.

Chess and poker

                All in one

Games of intrigue

                War is fun!

Torture and death.

                Tools of the trade.

                                Power and wealth

                                                The game that is played!

Oppression is necessary,

                Opposition a pain,

                                Suppression the answer.

Because freedom runs against the grain.

Opher – 31.3.2022

Putin sits in his magnificent secret Palace having stashed billions and billions in secret hordes.

The Russian people live austere lives in poverty.

Putin plots and schemes to make himself more powerful. He deploys his zombies to oppress and suppress. He commands his soldiers to kill and maim.

He sits back and plays the game.

He’s exactly the same as Trump and Johnson. It’s just a question of scale.

How the Tories are attempting to stifle all scrutiny and opposition.

Emily Maitlis is right. The BBC is being loaded with Tories who are intent on using it as a Tory propaganda machine.

They are looking to shut down, take over or shackle Channel 4.

They already own nearly all the newspapers. The tabloid press is pouring out Tory propaganda to poison minds.

If there is no scrutiny, no accountability and no unbiased news you cannot have a democracy!

On top of that, they are stifling protest with draconian laws against protesting in the street and shackling the trade union movement with a set of laws that make it increasingly challenging to take lawful action.

Protest and free media are the heart of democracy. A government free of scrutiny, free of accountability with laws to prevent lawful protest is the very definition of a police state. If this is allowed to continue much further we will be as bad as Putin’s Russia and voting will be pointless.

I am a Barcode

I am a Barcode

I’ve become a barcode,

A commodity.

I sit upon a shelf

And dream of being free.

My dreams are sold

As merchandise

Alongside aftershave

And forbidden rice.

I’m a product of

The twenty first century.

All is bought

Nothing’s for free.

Everything has a price

But no worth.

Equipped with a price tag

From the moment of its birth.

I’ve become a barcode,

A commodity.

I sit upon a shelf

And dream of being free.

Opher – 6.12.2020

The whole planet is up for sale, every tree, fish and insect has a price.

Pay enough and you can have a pet whale!

Every forest is there for profit, every chimp and rhino.

Every idea has value.

Everything we do is bought and sold.

There are businessmen wanting to bribe politicians to sell the future.

My barcode is evident in everything I do. I have no other purpose.


We all want our freedom!!

What’s that actually mean?? Can we ever be completely free? I think not.

If we live with other people then freedom is a compromise. One person’s freedom infringes on others.

If we live alone with nature that too has its limitations. The creatures and plants have rights every bit as much as you. Some of them have nasty habits that might well limit what you can do. Then there are other limitations such as the weather.

What is this idea of freedom? Isn’t it often confused with licence?

A few definitions might help – ‘the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants.’ Or ‘the state of not being imprisoned or enslaved.’

That seems simple enough until you start to analyse it.

To act, speak or think as one wants. Pretty straightforward. I want that. But then I am someone who is not prone to violence or abusing others. What if I was a person who enjoyed punching people, setting dogs on fire or raping children? Should I have my freedom? Supposing I was someone who enjoyed intimidating others with weapons or thought that bullying was fun. Should I have my freedom? Or if I liked to take whatever I wanted from anywhere I wanted? What if I liked shooting endangered species or chopping down trees, or throwing my waste in next door’s garden? Or if I owned a company and wanted to make more money by selling dangerous goods or dumping pollutants in the river?

What is this freedom? It’s a bit of a moot point. In all human communities, there are laws to prevent people from doing harm to others.

Is freedom merely a question of where we place the boundaries for those laws? How much should the state become involved with a person’s freedom? Should it insist that all children have to attend school? Should it set the limits on drinking and driving? What about drugs? Should individuals have the right to choose? Should eight-year-olds be allowed to use heroin?

What about guns and knives? We see the madness in the USA. There were 39,707 deaths from firearms in the U.S. in 2019. I wonder how many were injured? In the UK there were  In 2020/21 there were 235 homicides involving a knife or other sharp instrument in England and Wales. Should the state say that it’s too dangerous for people to have knives?

What about the right to speak – to say what we want? Elon Musk has just bought twitter. He says it is to promote the right for people to say what they want. Should we be allowed to say what we want?

I was watching some old episodes of Monty Python’s Flying Circus. It was hilarious but………………. there were a number of scenes with people blacked up and expressing racially stereotyped views that were highly derogatory. It made me cringe. Society has moved on. But should the racists and fascists have a platform to intimidate, demean, threaten and bully? Should they have the right to take away the rights of whole races of people and create a society with institutional racism that generates second-class citizens on the basis of their colour, religion or race? Isn’t that promoting hatred and division, depriving society of many skills and artificially creating a hierarchy that doesn’t exist?

We say Trump, Johnson and other populists using Twitter and other social media to spread lies, fake news and false information. They undermined experts and scientists for their own ends and in so doing spread misinformation and conspiracy that generated hatred, division and even death. It has resulted in thousands of deaths from covid, the storming of the seat of democracy, racial hatred, the spread of ridiculous conspiracy theories, a disillusionment with all politicians, an undermining of democracy, the spread of superstition, the undermining of science, the ridiculing of the media and the spread of propaganda on the internet.

Now there is no doubt in my mind that politicians need holding to account, that the media lies, that democracy is a sham and scientists can be bought by big business ….. but do we want to replace experts with snake-oil merchants? Replace science with superstition and propaganda? Replace democracy with fascism?

That is what is happening.

Then we have the right to think as we like. That seems reasonable. Do we have that right? No. Definitely not.

In Putin’s Russia the views of the bulk of the electorate are controlled by the state. The only information they have is what they are told. The same in China. But is it any different here? We have a media run by the establishment spewing out propaganda and polluting minds. It is so obvious with the likes of the Daily Mail, Sun and Daily Express but it’s the same with The Telegraph and Times and the rest are not much better. Even the BBC is far from impartial.

The establishment owns the media and while the propaganda is less draconian the effect is the same. That is why we have the political system we have. That is why a party that only really represents the top 5% gets elected. That is why the non-establishment parties have to become establishment parties in order to be elected. The media controls minds.

Those who chose to get their news from the internet are in an even worse situation. The right-wing have that sewn up. They pump out even more extreme propaganda under the guise of free speech and unbiased news. A lot of it is pure hate and put out to stir up division.

If you live in any society your mind is not your own. NOBODY is immune to the constant drip of propaganda. We are not as free in our heads as we might think we are. Even our cultural (and religious) upbringing is simply brainwashing. Our own families are probably the worst source of brain control.

Unless you’ve been brought up by wolves you have already been indoctrinated.

The Hell’s Angels seem, in one sense, to epitomise personal freedom. Their hedonistic lifestyle is the very essence of freedom. Sex, Drugs, Rock ‘n’ Roll, freewheelin’, out on the highway doing what they like. Except when you scratch the surface and you find misogyny, racism, violence and intimidation. Their freedom comes at the expense of others. They remind me of the robber barons of long ago who would ride in, slaughter, rape and steal. They thought they were free too.

Freedom huh?

I think I might move on to not being enslaved or imprisoned.

Well you get imprisoned if you break the law. For the most part that is for serious stuff like killing, stealing, raping or violence. That seems reasonable. But I’ve known people harassed, fined and imprisoned for possessing marijuana. It’s these grey areas that seem to cause the most problems. What should be illegal and who should decide. In places like Russia you get locked up for opposing Putin, opposing the war or being against the state.

In Britain we supposedly allow protest (though they are trying to take that right away) and can call out our politicians as lying criminals. That is not against the law.

We do not have slavery – or do we?? We all know about the laws and also know that many people are still be held in slavery – girls brought over for the sex industry, the drug gangs holding people, illegal factories. Slavery takes many forms.

Isn’t work really a form of slavery? We have to work to live now that our natural way of life has been taken away. We sell our time and bodies. It’s all a question of degree. I certainly am not free when much of my life has been tied in to having to work. Someone else has been demanding I do as I am instructed for a good part of my working week.

We all want our freedom!! Getting it is something else!!

For me I am satisfied if I have the right to live how I want, wear what I want, practice whatever religion I want, believe what I want, vote for whatever political party I want, drink and eat what I want, read what I want, go where I want and say what I want.

I would like a few more liberties but I am aware that I have a pretty liberal existence. I don’t mind having laws to prevent people hurting others; I don’t mind having laws to stop me (or anyone else) from inciting hatred and violence; I’m glad we have laws to protect the weaker members of society and the environment.

For me freedom is about compromise. It is a question of getting the degree of compromise right.