Student Falsely Accused

At the end of August, a Student from the University of New South Wales was arrested and accused of being a terrorist. Articles like this ‘REVEALED: Lone wolf’s terror hit list‘ and ‘Malcolm Turnbull ‘included on uni staffer terror accused’s hit list’‘ were published and Mohamed Kamer Nilar Nizamdeen’s name was plastered all over TVs and Newspapers as well as photos of the Sri Lankan Student being everywhere.

Mohamed Kamer Nilar Nizamdeen.jpg

He was imprisoned in a high-security prison for a month. The charges were then dropped as the sole piece of evidence, a notebook containing terror plot(s) was found to not have been written by Nizamdeen. However, he still spent four weeks in a high-security prison. He had been wrongfully accused, and unlawfully imprisoned. However, not only was he imprisoned, his reputation was destroyed by the media. Does this come back to the old saying “don’t let the truth get in the way of a good story?”

Since it was released that Nizamdeen is innocent, it has been nearly 2 months and there has been an occasional news story online. Where is the media’s apology, where is the sensationalization of “Young Student Wrongly accused and unlawfully imprisoned.” Again, as I seem to keep on saying on my little blog, where is the outrage? Furthermore, I only just discovered that Nizamdeen had even been cleared of all charges through stumbling across an article on the ABC website. The media’s portrayal of Nizamdeen is problematic for multiple reasons; it boosts fear within society, by telling us that there is an extreme terrorist who wants to kill high up members of cabinet, when this may not be the case, as Nizamdeen is claiming to have been framed, therefore this implies that there is no threat to the Australian people; furthermore, as Nizamdeen is an international student, it again creates the ‘us and them’ dynamic that divides Australia further. Regardless, Nizamdeen has been labelled a terrorist, which it has been shown that he isn’t; this tarnishes his reputation, and diminishes his future opportunities, as accusations never wash away completely. This is not okay, and the Australian media that have slandered Nizamdeen need to clearly articulate that he has been cleared of all charges and that he is an innocent man. Furthermore, I personally believe that apologies are in order from the various media outlets.

Nizamdeen also believes that he has been mistreated by the media and is suing specific media outlets for defamation, which he rightfully should. Police have said that they will pay for the legal costs for this whole incident. However, Nizamdeen still plans to sue Police over his arrest.

This situation should have been avoided. This unlawful detention shouldn’t have occurred. The media should have and in the future should approach their techniques of reporting on accusations differently and remember that people are innocent until proven guilty. Mohamed

The November Bourke Street Attack

On Friday the 9th of November, Hassan Khalif Shire Ali set alight his Vehicle and then stabbed three people in the Melbourne CBD. He was shot dead by police, and one of the people he stabbed died at the scene. It was a horrific and devastating attack. That should be condemned by all. Within hours the media was announcing that it was a terrorist attack, and maybe it was. It has now been four days, and the media is still covering the attack. The media has been discussing the loss of life, and the perpetrator Shire Ali, but also the heroes, such as the police who were at the scene and the ‘Trolley Man.”  However, the police have also been criticised for shooting Shire Ali, especially since the police officer who fired the deadly shot only graduated from the Police academy three months ago. The loss of life and the injuries (both physical and mental) are all tragic, however, in my personal opinion, I don’t believe the media’s coverage or our Prime Minister’s various public statements have been productive for the Australian Community.

For example, Scott Morison in one of his various public statements stated that Muslim Leaders have to take more responsibility for stamping out radicalism in their communities. (See article from the Sydney Morning Herald) While at the surface level this seems like a fair statement, it creates an ‘Us and Them’ dynamic. This dynamic divides Australia even further and after an attack like this, we need to come together not be pushed further apart. Regardless, this argument/statement falls flat as it has been released that Shire Ali had not attended his Mosque in nearly 20 years. How were the Muslim Leaders supposed to take more responsibility when he wasn’t even present or apart of his Islamic community.

The media is not innocent an innocent bystander, it has been creating fear and spreading hate. But what can we expect? Fear sells newspapers. How can newspaper headlines like “Kick Them Out” and “Refusal to tell the truth on Islam” be acceptable? This is racism, this is marginalising an entire group, because of the act of one man. This coverage has been continuous, and unforgiving and the fact it has been in combination with the words of OUR Prime Minister, it is disastrous.Hate

Regardless, it has also been released that Shire Ali was delusional and paranoid, as well as suffering from substance abuse. We don’t know if he was on drugs at the time of the attack because the toxicology report hasn’t been released to the public yet. Furthermore, a family friend has stated that Shire Ali believed that people with spears were following him. He was legitimately delusional. He was not mentally sound at the time of the attack; and we will never know if he perpetrated this attack because of his delusions, or if it was an act of terror. We can make assumptions and try to piece it together but we will never know because he is dead. To make matters worse, Scott Morrison also dismissed any and all claims about the mental health of Shire Ali, in saying that it was merely an ‘excuse’ for his actions. The last time I checked, Scott Morison wasn’t a psychologist, a mental health professional or someone that had even met Shire Ali, so how can he have the audacity to even make that call.

To prove the point about the damage that the media and specifically Scott Morison have caused in their coverage of this horrific attack we can simply reflect on popular Google searches performed since the attack. “Muslim Scum” has been searched exponentially more since this attack and Google refers to this tremendous increase in searches as a ‘Break out.’ “Muslim Attack” has been searched 1200% more, “Muslim Terrorist” has also been searched 250% more, and “Islamic Terrorism” has been searched 50% more. Is this not damaging to a whole community of people, the fact that people are searching and thinking that Muslims are Scum, and that Muslims are terrorists. This is simply not the whole truth, the large majority of people in the Islamic Community are loving and kind, this small majority that commit these terrible acts, make it so much harder for that majority. So I believe that the Current Government and the media with their cheap tactics need to have a serious look at themselves and realise that what they say and what they publish has a major effect on so many innocent people. As a society, we need to look past this hate and move past the fear. We need to create a loving and inclusive community that embraces our diversity, and works together to eliminate terrorism and extremism together. This cannot and will not be achieved if we continue to accept the ‘us and them’ dynamic. We cannot and will not have a constructive and safe society if we all continue to be absorbed by the fear and hatred that covers our screens and newspapers.

Is it not time to change?

Recently a woman by the name of Toyah was brutally murdered in Northern Queensland while walking her dog. She was walking along the beach on a sunny afternoon. This was just another woman that has died due to violence in 2018. This was just another woman who has died while going about a regular daytime task, a task that she should have been safe, but she wasn’t. Tonya’s death, her murder started the discussion and the standard disagreement over social media about men needing to change.

So before I begin this controversial post, I want to say a few things. Not all men are murders, not all men are violent, not all men rape women, not all men abuse women, but some men do.

I shared this post by Kon K on my facebook page. It was mostly well received, except for some upset comments from some men in my life.

Kon's post about Tonya

After posting this picture, I was sent an article by a friend about more men being murdered in Australia than women. This article was sent to me with the following comment “why are female deaths such an outrage, when in 2017 60 more males died to violent deaths than females did. 108 compared to 48.” All of these deaths were tragic and could have been prevented, and yes there were more male deaths, however, 82% of these deaths were alleged to perpetrated by men. I am not saying that all men are the problem, but what I am saying is that statistically more men commit violent crimes when directly compared to women.

However, I don’t think that all men are inherently more violent.  I believe that society and societies expectations of men force them to be. In 2018 gender roles still remain so prevalent, and masculinity still remains socially expected. With this in mind, men can’t help but react differently to women in social situations. Men aren’t supposed to show emotion or talk about their problems, and when they do it is seen as taboo. This needs to change. Gender roles, and a toxic level masculinity leads to so many issues and problems; without a change in the way we view men, a change in the way men view other men, we will never escape this cycle of violence.

Recently I watched two social experiment videos on youtube. Both videos were about leaving children without adult control in a house for 5 days. These two social experiments had one key difference; one had 10 boys, the other had 10 girls in the social experiment. The results of each experiment were interesting, in both experiments, there were cases of bullying, isolation and lots of sugar consumed. However, personally, the most memorable feature was that the boys absolutely and purposefully destroyed the house in which the social experiment took place. The girls while causing drama, mischieve, and accidental damage, did not necessarily cause purposeful harm or property damage.  Is this just boys being boys? Or is there an actual underlying issue here?

I personally believe that there is an underlying issue. Men are still taught that they cannot cry, they cannot show emotion as previously mentioned, also femininity is still used as an insult; ‘don’t be a sissy,’ ‘you throw like a girl,’ ‘be a man.’ This has implications on both the men and women of society. Men are taught that there is something inherently bad about being a woman, and women are taught that being a woman is inferior. Women are still taught to be gentle, and sweet and kind. Whereas men are taught to be strong and smart. In school, we were sat down at lunchtime and told that the way we were sitting in class (in our dresses that had to be longer than knee length) was distracting male students and teachers, the boys were never told to change anything they were doing. When I was attending a church summer camp the girls were told to be mindful of what we wore as our ‘brothers’ were built differently and we had to be respectful to their needs. Is this not problematic? As children, we were told to react and change to cater for the men in our lives but this was not taught to our male counterparts. Society seems to be raising boys and girls differently, and not in a progressive or productive manner. Yes, we are improving, yes times are changing but Australia still has one of the highest rates of sexual harassment and assault in the world, maybe this can be related to the lack of respect that is taught to us as children. Maybe we should be changing and speaking out against this. By we, I mean MEN and WOMEN, because we will never create meaningful change if only one half of society is speaking out for it.

Furthermore, I see a level of disrespect towards women so often in my everyday life. At university, I have been faced with male students talking over and interrupting me as I speak, as if their opinions and arguments are more important than mine. I have faced disrespect within the workforce, being called Sweety, and Princess by a male colleague, to which I confronted, and he didn’t see the problem. I have been involved in conversations with young men about women’s health, as they believe they have a say over what women do over their own bodies, and instead of having reasonable arguments they have informed me that I am obviously just not loved. I have seen women be physically abused on the streets in broad daylight and stood there shaking as I called the police. I have held my friends as they sobbed because they had been violated by men. I have been catcalled when walking in the middle of the day by groups of men driving past. I am also sure that many other women have experienced similar experiences because it happens every day.  Women deal with prejudice that I have not seen men have to deal with, but not only that, everything I have mentioned from my personal experience stems from a lack of respect towards women. I am not disregarding men’s struggles, young men are the most at risk category for suicide and are less likely to receive custody of their children, but I believe these are overarching social issues, they do not stem from a lack of respect towards men.

Why did I mention all of these issues? Why did I mention these examples? I mention them because they all have to do with how we raise our children. They all have to do with the respect towards women but also how men are taught to behave. Men are taught not to be feminine, they are taught to be strong and show no emotion, this leads to so many issues, that need to be solved. Boys need to be shown that it is okay to show emotion, and that it is okay to not always be strong. We all need to stop using feminity as an insult, and call out sexism and misogyny that we see in our society.

My call to action is this:

Men,

When you see your friends being sexist, catcalling, or violent. Call them out. Speak to them. When young men are playing sports, don’t tell them to man up, don’t tell them that they’re playing like a girl, because being a girl isn’t an insult. Being masculine isn’t necessarily better. When one of your mates, or yourself is struggling, talk about what is bothering you, find healthy ways to deal with your emotions, and ask your mates how they’re really doing. Join the discussion, ask the women in your lives what they face on a daily basis, ask them if they’ve ever been disrespected, and listen to them. Remember to be kind.

Women,

When men in your lives are being sexist, or disrespectful; speak up. If you’re being interrupted, speak up, ask to be able to finish your sentence, argument or idea. Remember to ask the men in your lives how they are really doing, and support them if they’re having a hard time. Start conversations with the men in your lives, tell them how your feeling, tell them about the issues you face, because they may not even realise. Let men join this fight for equality, and for safety because we will never create meaningful change if only one half of society is speaking out for it. Most of all remember to be kind.

Does the threat of terrorism in Australia justify recent Australian government policy responses to terrorism?

Its been a few months since I last posted. Here is an essay I have recently written about the Australian Government and Terrorism in Australia.

Since September 11th 2001 Terrorism has been a forever present threat in our modern world. However, the real question is whether the threat of terrorism justifies the Australian Governments’ policies, and legislations that respond to the said threat. It is possible to argue both ways, but the primary argument and conclusion that can be found is that the Australian Government’s response to terrorism cannot, and is not justified. First, it is important to understand what terrorism is. Then it is important to understand how the Australian Government’s actions can be justified by discussing how the majority of Australians are afraid of terrorism, as well as the media’s sensationalisation of terrorism in Australia and the world. Subsequently it is important to understand how it is not possible to justify the Australian Government’s response to terrorism by discussing and analysing the amount of legislation passed through Australian government since 2001, then the physical changes to parliament house, the changes to rights and liberties in Australia, the treatment of Asylum seekers and children in detention, the breach of human rights by the Australian Government, and as well as discussing the money spent on terrorism when compared to domestic violence even though one has greater damage on the lives of every day Australian.

To begin with, it is important to understand what Terrorism actually is. Terrorism by definition is the act, or the threat to act that meets two requirements. The act has the intention to influence, or pressure the public, or any institution through intimidation to advance a religious, ideological or political cause. AND it causes any of the following; serious danger, harm or death to person/s, causes major damage to property, is a serious risk to the health/safety of the public, and/or severe destruction, disruption, or interference with critical infrastructure (e.g. telecommunications, electrical network, water supply, etc.). (Attorney-General’s Department, n.d.) Therefore, terrorism is a serious act that many Australians do fear, however, the threat in Australia does not justify the Government’s policy response to it.

The argument can be made for justifying the Australian Government’s policy response to terrorism is the fact that over half of Australians are afraid of terrorism. In 2015 56% of Australians’ believed there would be a terror attack in the future. (Kerin, 2015) This demonstrates and explains how the Australian Government can justify their responses to terrorism as the Government is supposed to protect its people, but also put through legislation that their constituents believe to be important. Thus, the Australian Government prioritises anti-terrorism legislation that generally is seen positively by the general public. This reasoning can be argued to justify the Australian Government’s response to terrorism.

The argument can also be made that this fear has been extenuated due to the media’s sensationalisation of terrorism, and extensive coverage of terrorist attacks. According to a study performed by the University of Alabama and Georgia State University, terrorist attacks perpetrated by people with Islamic beliefs receive on average 357% more coverage than any other attacks. (Kearns, Betus, & Lemieux, 2018) This could be the case as ‘bad news sells.’ According to the Pew Research Centre news of tragedies gains the greatest interest amongst the general public. (Robinson, 2007) The selective discriminatory coverage of these events can help to explain the fear of terrorism that Australians feel, but also why other threats, and newsworthy events do not receive the attention that they may deserve. Furthermore, if the media had a greater, more equal coverage of world events; the general public’s perception could become closer to the actual reality of the world. (Robinson, 2007) Therefore, the current media’s portrayal of current events could justify the Australian Government’s responses to terrorism due to it being of interest to the Australian people.

It is important to note that due to the level of fear within society, the Australian Government has passed at least 70 pieces of anti-terrorism legislation since 2001. (Connors, 2017) No other Western country has passed this much legislation, and according to Michael Cope the President of the Queensland Council of Civil Liberties the more legislation that is passed, the more liberties (freedoms) Australians are losing. It is believed that tougher, more extensive legislation will be seen in the near future, (Connors, 2017) which will see to the loss of even more Australian liberties. Hence, by passing 70 pieces of legislation, a large number of liberties have been lost, and is not justifiable for the Australian people to lose gross freedoms due to the threat of terrorism. Accordingly, the Australian Government’s policy response to terrorism cannot be justified.

The loss of liberties that Australians have been facing has been condoned and announced by former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. During a speech to the House of Representatives Turnbull stated that Australians would have to be prepared to give up some of their rights and freedoms to protect Australia from Terrorism. This is a completely different approach to former Prime Minister Robert Menzies who stated during World War II that “it would be a tragedy if you fought a war in defence of liberty and in the course of doing so, lost your liberties.” (Connors, 2017) Robert Menzies was Australia’s longest serving Prime Minister, (National Archives of Australia, n.d.) compared to Malcolm Turnbull who served as Prime Minister for less than 3 years. Menzies saw the importance of Australian Rights, and he saw the tragedy in losing them. This high regard to the rights of Australians seems to have been lost with modern day Ministers and Policymakers, as seen by Malcolm Turnbull. Consequently, the recent Australian Government’s policy responses cannot be a justified response to terrorism as Australian’s rights are just as important now as they were during World War II.

The extent of these legislations, and the lack of justification for the Government’s response to terrorism can be physically seen through the development and building of greater security measures and a fence being built at Parliament House. This is so significant for two reasons; in 2017 it was estimated that these upgrades would cost $126.7 million dollars, which is a substantial amount that is more than the funding supplied to domestic violence in 2016. Additionally, Parliament House was designed and built as ‘A true people’s house,’ with the intention of allowing the common man to walk above the politicians as they work. The significance of this can be noted through the fact that the free access given to the ordinary man to walk above the politicians has been deemed too dangerous due to terrorism. (Connors, 2017) These simple security changes go against the very principles that the Australian Parliament House was built on. These changes, therefore, cannot be justified as a means of protection against the threat of terrorism.

As a direct result of terrorism, September 11 and the war on terror, there has been an overwhelming number of refugees that have been displaced internationally, along with greater restrictions on immigration. Within Australia, legislations like operation sovereign borders and the introduction of offshore detention centres have seen the gross mistreatment and unlawful imprisonment of thousands of innocent people under the pretence of protecting the Australian people. According to the Human Rights Watch 2018 Annual Report refugees and asylum seekers regularly face violence, and delayed or blatant denial of medical care. Furthermore, self-harm and suicide attempts are said to occur frequently. (Human Rights Watch, 2017, pp. 48-49) This detention and imprisonment of so many people, including children cannot be a justified response to terrorism or a justifiable way of protection for the Australian people. Michael Cope has stated that “another person’s human rights are your human rights… If they are taken away from one person, they are also taken away from you.” (Connors, 2017) This quote further demonstrates that the disregard of Human rights and liberties cannot be justified by anyone, and is not a justifiable way for the Australian Government to treat any human being, regardless of the threat of terrorism.

Through the use of offshore detention centres for legitimate asylum seekers and the implementation of so many anti-terror policies various Human Rights in the pursuit of protecting Australians have been breached. Article 9 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights “No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile” has been directly breached through the unlawful detention of thousands of men, women and children. Furthermore, Article 14 “Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.” Has been directly breached as Australia is not allowing asylum seekers that come to Australia by boat the right to seek asylum. (United Nations, n.d.) Regardless of this, new legislation was proposed to parliament this year to allow police access to private information such as messages sent through apps or online services. (Doran, 2018) This could be said to breach Article 12 “No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence… Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.” Therefore, this again proves that the way in which the Australian Government reacts towards terrorism through policy cannot be justified, as it breaches human rights and displaces human liberties.

Not only have human rights been breached in response to terrorism, but financially terrorism has cost Australia millions. In the 2014–15 Budget there was a $630 million counter-terrorism funding package. According to the Budget Review 2015–16 a further $326.4 million was provided to counter terrorism. (Barker, 2015) Therefore, over a two year period, $956.5 million was put towards counter-terrorism measures. According to an article written by Mehdi Hassan as of July 2017, there had only been 5 deaths caused by terrorist or extremist attacks on Australian soil in the last two decades. (Hasan, 2017) In contrast to this, over 70 people were killed due to domestic/family violence in 2016 alone. (Dumas, 2016) That is 14 times the amount of people killed by terrorism in two decades. The funding for domestic violence is exponentially lower. In the Australian Parliament budget review 2014-15, there is no specialised mention of domestic violence found within the report. (Parliament of Australia Research Branch, 2014) It is stated in the Australian Parliament Budget Review 2015–16, a total of $119.5 million over four years was allocated to National Initiatives for domestic and family violence. (Thomas & Dunkley, 2015). Therefore, in two years $956.5 million was put towards terrorism, and over a five year period, $119.5 million was put towards domestic violence. The Australian Government’s response to the threat of terrorism by funding $956.4 million towards it when compared to the funding of $119.5 million towards domestic violence cannot be justified as domestic violence kills exponentially more Australians than terrorism does.   

To conclude, it is possible to argue both for and against the Australian Government’s response to the threat of terrorism, but the primary argument and conclusion that has been found is that the Australian Government’s response to terrorism cannot, and is not justified. This conclusion has been reached through the discussion and analysis of legislations that have been passed since 2001, the importance of rights and liberties, the physical changes to parliament house, the changes to rights and liberties in Australia, the treatment of Asylum seekers in detention, the breach of human rights by the Australian Government, and as well as the discussion of the financial cost of counter-terrorism measures. It is worth arguing that the response to the threat of terrorism would be tragic if, in the pursuit of protecting Australians and their rights, Australians lost their rights. In the words of Robert Menzies, “it would be a tragedy if you fought a war in defence of liberty and in the course of doing so, lost your liberties.” So with that, the Australian Government’s response to the threat of terrorism cannot be justified due to the gross mistreatment of refugees, the loss of liberties for Australians, and the loss of the very basis of Parliament House. The importance of these liberties, and the principles embedded in Australian politics need to be remembered; until that moment the Australian Government’s response to the threat of terrorism is not justifiable.

Australia’s International Aid

Recently the Australian Coalition Government announced a 10% cut in International Aid. This may not seem like much however Australia’s aid budget is only 0.22% of its Gross National Income which equates to $3.8 billion. The economical amount may seem like a lot however it is only 22 cents per $100 in gross national income. That leads me to the UN foreign aid target.

The UN foreign aid target is at least 0.7% of a Country’s Gross National Income. This amount is so small in comparison to the National budgets and the amount of income a country is earning; however nearly all countries fail to meet this target. As of 2015 only seven countries met or exceeded this goal. Only seven countries seem to believe that foreign aid is important to them, that foreign aid is important to fund.

However, the countries that have spent the most amount of money on foreign aid is slightly different, as countries with larger economies (such as the US) have higher gross incomes and therefore can donate less when scaled to their incomes but more in numerical values. As seen below

Australia’s contribution to international aid does not make the top ten countries for contributions with either percentage or numerical amounts. Does this mean that Australia doesn’t see the importance of international aid?

International aid funds so many causes from food, medical care, drinking water to education and supporting economies. This may seem like it’s not our problem right? However, education has been proven to move people away from extremism, violence and crime, and also leads to people being more likely employed. This keeps Australia safe and can lead to better trade.

Two prime examples of where foreign aid has lead to better trade are China and South Korea. They were some of the largest receivers of foreign aid in the world; now they are some of the largest players in the international market, as well as being the top trading partners with Australia (1st and 3rd in 2017 respectively). If humanitarian, and safety reasons are not enough to demonstrate the importance of foreign aid, then economic value must be a sure fire way to. Foreign aid is like an investment and can lead to more trading partners, and economy boosts for not only the country receiving the aid, as well as the home country.

So with all this in mind foreign aid achieves a lot and would seem important. But here’s the kicker; Australia receives its own foreign aid through the Department of Immigration and Border Protection.

For me it’s a no brainer. Foreign aid is important; it improves the life of human beings all over the world, it boosts economies and is along term investment for the global community. It seems simple to me, but why is this not the case? Why is Australia contributing so little to foreign aid? Why is most of the International Community failing to reach the goal of 0.7% of Gross National Income to foreign aid? Again I am left with questions that I can’t answer. Again, I am left with questions that I hope I can one day answer and fix.

The United Nations Security Council

This year I came into studying political science believing that the UN was this magical organisation that saved the world. I was incredibly idealistic; but I’ve come to understand that the UN and all of its other substitutes are still human organisations, and therefore they still have flaws, some of these critical flaws.

The biggest thing that I have learnt so far is about the UN Security Council, the P-5 and the Veto power. The UN Security Council is a council consisting of 15 members from 15 states. 10 of these members are from various countries that are on two year terms, ultimately they are rotating members and change every two years. The other 5 members are the P5 or Permanent 5 members which consist of Russia, The United States, The United Kingdom, France and China. The P5 members do not rotate and are awarded an extra level of power called “veto.” This power allows the P5 member to deny any resolution put through to the UNSC, even if there is a majority that want said resolution to occur.

In most recent times Russia has used their veto power twelve times to deny any action from the UNSC to act or intervene in the Syrian Conflict. (BBC) This has led to 7 years of conflict. SEVEN ENTIRE YEARS. Not only this, but it has also led to 11 million people being displaced. (Syrian Refugees) So instead of the UNSC being able to act or create change, Russia has prevented any action from occurring.

This leads to the realisation that these P5 have this extra power, but they still have their ulterior motives, they still have their Home Country’s interests as a primary motive, they do not act for what is the best action for the world or other states. So it leads to the thought, why do these P5 members have this power? Should the veto power be rotated? Should all members of the Security Council be on two year terms? Why is it fair that these five states have more power than the others? I am left with all of these questions that can’t be answered simply, all I know is people are dying, people are losing their homes, children are losing their childhoods and their education, and that Syria was once a beautiful country is losing everything – if this conflict does not come to an end soon, there will be nothing left.

Analysis of the article ‘Vaccine Freedom of Choice’ By Barbra Low Fisher

 

This is an analysis of a speech/article presented by Barbara Low Fisher, this is an essay I have written for assessment and it touches on the topics of freedom and vaccines both topics which I believe relate to my blog. The original article can be accessed here.

The article ‘Vaccine Freedom of Choice’ by Barbara Low Fisher discusses mandatory vaccinations and how they impose on the freedoms of parents. By starting with an overview of Fisher’s article, analysing her concepts, and exploring an alternative argument it is clear that Fisher has a strong opinion about forced vaccinations backed by harsh language and personal anecdotes, however, she fails to consider both positive and negative freedoms, and doesn’t list any actual facts or statistics. Therefore due to this analysis, it is clear that forced vaccinations do impose on the negative freedom of parents but in contrast, allow for the positive freedom of their children.

Vaccine Freedom of Choice is an article that uses strong first-person language, personal anecdotes, invokes emotion and paints health professionals in a negative light. Fisher relates to audience by using first person language such as “among US parents,” “If WE cannot be free,” and “WE believe in liberty” as a few examples to connect with the reader on a personal level; she is drawing the connection with parents and people that can relate to this topic. She uses a personal anecdote about her own son Chris to further this connection with the reader and as a form of evidence as to why she has her opinions against mandatory vaccinations beyond its impact on freedom. Conversely, this can be noted as bias as it is emotional. This leads to the next use of language and topic of discussion – emotion. Fisher quotes an inscription at the Holocaust Museum in Washington that says “The first to perish were the children” this quote draws emotion and it represents a very dark time in history. Furthermore, she makes statements like “vaccine roulette with a child’s life” which would invoke emotion from any parent. In addition, she paints health professionals in a negative light by telling the reader that babies are dying due to health officials calling for more mandatory vaccinations, and that any deaths that are caused by vaccinations are simply “acceptable loses” to health professionals.  Regardless, all of these techniques convey Fisher’s concept of why mandatory vaccinations are bad and how they impose on negative freedom and more specifically the “free(dom) to make informed, voluntary decisions.”

Fisher is successful in explaining why she believes vaccines impose on negative freedom. It is stated throughout this article that mandatory vaccinations impose on freedom, more specifically they impose on negative freedom. Therefore, it is important to understand what negative freedom means. By definition negative freedom as the absence of external constraints or restrictions on an individual which allows them freedom of choice. (Heywood, 2017: 30) Fisher uses the phrases ‘legal right’ and ‘legally forced’ when describing vaccination decisions and mandatory vaccinations respectfully; this has direct links to the basic level of negative freedom as it demonstrates restrictions put on individuals and their freedom of choice being taken away. Furthermore, Fisher extends on this idea when she says “If we cannot be free to make informed, voluntary decisions… then we are not free in any sense of the word,” discussing the direct link between decisions about vaccines and the freedom of individuals. She also continues to extend on this when she declares “There will be no limit on which individual freedoms the state can take away” ultimately insisting that she believes that if mandatory vaccinations are enforced, then all individual rights could be taken away as well. Fisher clearly has an in-depth understanding of negative freedom, or at least the freedom of choice and strongly believes that mandatory vaccinations impose on an individual’s freedom to choose. However with all of this in mind, she does fail to acknowledge the child’s right to health, and their positive freedom to be their best selves.

Due to Fisher failing to acknowledge a child’s positive freedom it is important to understand what positive freedom is. Positive freedom is the development of human capacities, self-realisation or self-mastery. (Heywood, 2017: 30) Ultimately in its simplest form, it is the freedom to do things and be the best person an individual can be. So with this in mind, when children are prevented from getting vaccinated due to parents personal beliefs their positive freedoms are imposed upon. This is because they will be prevented from attending schools and day care facilities as mentioned by Fisher. Furthermore, these children could become dangerously ill from preventable deadly diseases such as whooping cough, measles, and polio; and ultimately they could die from something that is preventable. This is a huge disadvantage to any child and it is quite easy to see that children cannot be their best selves if they are permanently disabled, uneducated or dead. It is also important to consider Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which demonstrates that people need to satisfy their lower order biogenic needs like hunger and health before their higher order psychogenic needs like creative arts and self-actualisation. (Elliott, et al., 2012) Fisher doesn’t consider that children will not have access opportunities if they aren’t vaccinated and fails to ultimately see the bigger picture of positive AND negative freedom.

It is clear that mandatory vaccinations do affect the negative freedom of parents but subsequently protect the positive freedom of their children. Through the article ‘Vaccine Freedom of Choice’ it is evident that Fisher believes mandatory vaccinations impose on freedom, and it can be proven that they do impose on a parent’s negative freedom, as it does not allow them to make the decision. However, she fails to see how vaccines protect children’s positive freedom and help them to become their best selves. She doesn’t acknowledge that if parents are allowed to prevent their children from getting vaccinations it imposes on the child’s positive freedom. Fisher is entitled to her opinion, and so is everyone that may have an alternative view, but the concept of freedom is so broad and ultimately it comes down to a decision of what is more important; whether it be the negative freedom of parents and their decisions over their children, or the positive freedom of the children and their opportunity to live their best lives

References

Elliott, G., Rundle-Thiele, S. & Waller, D., 2012. Marketing. 2nd ed. Milton: John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd.

Heywood, A., 2017. Political Ideologies. 6th ed. London: Palgrave.