The leveson Inquiry, is raising lots of questions about what is in the public interest, censorship and privacy. The SOPA and PIPA issues this week and online blackouts have been subjects of great debate, protecting creative rights and information verses protecting freedom of information, freedom to create. Ironic then that i find myself again getting into trouble for speaking out.
I write and talk about politics a lot. All things are political. This has cost me facebook peer/colleagues and created enmity with a couple of folks in the small world of comics publishing. My personal honesty has also cost me a friends/collaborator or two in other spheres. Whats weird is it was not the political opinion or content, left / right etc, but the mere fact that i talk about issues...rather than shoes, food or whats on telly. 'Shhhh don't make a fool of yourself dear', 'oh no, is it me? what did i do wrong?'. But it's okay as i'm sure i gain more friends/ creative connections through being myself, than those that i loose.
I am privy to a lot of information that is not for public consumption, is confidential;
local gossip. family backgrounds and medical background of young people i have worked with.
what the inside of peoples houses are like and who is in who's house on occasion, via my fire service work.
Individuals work/ family/ health issues via trade union work.
Company policies and proposals that are in the offing, through Trade union work.
Health and Safety issues, near missed and dangerous occurrences, through union work.
Delicate negotiations and things under discussion, via trade union. confidential reports, internal documents.
Things that have happened in community, who earns what, who ripped who off, who's on which benefit. Vulnerable people within the community. What happens at emergency incidents. Health and Safety reports.
Some political wheeling and dealing. Things going on the in background in charities and organisations.
Things children have revealed to me about famillies, just when i'm out and about with no hat on.
The list goes on and on.
We all have things we sit on; because it is the responsible thing to do, the legal thing to do, the employment policy, the agreement, the unspoken agreement, professional conduct, for the greater good, benefits no-one, would cause trouble, would be cruel or undignified to share, the list goes on.
I have a self censoring mental cut off switch, when i am told something this is not for sharing, i mentally file it away and almost forget i have heard or seen it, until later when it becomes public domain or a newspaper headline. If i had £1 for every time i say, 'I'm not prepared to say', 'I'm not mentioning names' etc... I'd be doing ok. But of course no-one hears this.
The climate of repression and fear builds up gradually. I am doing a course just now, the exercises, essays and reports require me to write up about a couple of my organisations, structure, planning, policies, problems, issues, my roles, how to resolve problem areas. Trying to do this i started to realise how much I've become afraid of stating the facts, i'm writing them up looking over my shoulder, watching my back. I'm being repeatedly told i should not write or speak, i should not discuss or consult. It is becoming a major issue, where to draw the line? My rights to speak out? I'm not a journalist but i see the work of an artist in a similar light, i have a right to an opinion, and to express it, i paint what i see, why should i cover up for people who do not have my or the public interest in mind? When does the artist end and the obedient unquestioning worker drone begin? Why should i cover up things that don't need covering up? What happens when something goes wrong and there is a big inquiry? why did no-one speak up at the time? why didn't you tell us how dangerous things were getting? We're all trying to cover ourselves. I feel i am reaching a cusp, at what point is it for the greater good and ethically best to put up & shut up, to toe the line, and when is it the right time to walk away for freedom and free speeches sake? Do the public not have the right to know when their safety is an issue? Next public meeting make sure I only mention kittens, shopping and soap operas okay? Everything is nice, everything is lovely, move along, nothing to talk about here, don't rock the boat now. shhhhhhhhhhh.