John Munro
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14 January, 2015


Do we have freedom to offend?

John Munro
John Munro
Do we have freedom to offend? To belittle, to mock, to insult? Yes, we do, here in Britain, but we must accept the possible consequences of our actions. 

That’s what’s happened in Paris.

I can well understand how fanatical Muslims (I was a fanatical Christian in my 20s) can burn with fury at how the Whites in power have treated them as second class for so long.

For many it dates back to the Balfour Declaration of 2 November 1917, when we made contradictory promises to both Jews and Arabs to: 'favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people…it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine.'

This treachery still hurts today. I spoke to a couple of Palestinians at a cookery demonstration: 'Have you heard of the Balfour Declaration?' 'Of course! November 2nd is a black day in our calendar.'

As David Clark wrote in The Guardian 10 years ago: 'This terror will continue until we take Arab grievances seriously…the war on terror is failing…We may capture the perpetrators but others will follow to take their place. Moreover, the actions of our leaders have made this more likely, not less. It’s time for a rethink.'

I know from childhood how hurtful humiliation can be. A psychiatrist has called it ‘the nuclear bomb of the emotions’. It was not until I was 70 that I realised I had regarded all non-white people as inevitably second class, with my unconscious attitude of white superiority. I repented, in tears, and want to redress the balance.

John Munro has had four careers – advertising, publishing, social work and best of all, publishing for Social Services. He is passionate about the power of the printed word to change people’s thinking, and now in retirement publishes the powerful memoirs of IofC veterans whose lives are an example to all. These can be downloaded from his website:

NOTE: Individuals of many cultures, nationalities, religions, and beliefs are actively involved with Initiatives of Change. These commentaries represent the views of the writer and not necessarily those of Initiatives of Change as a whole. 

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