Friday, October 30, 2009

Time to define the scope of media and lawmakers

The role and scope of issues proper for politicians to pursue will doubtlessly always be problematic. However history and real needs clearly question the role of legislators on questions related to moral values. When the world is facing crisis such as economic meltdown, climate change, various open and covert conflicts with the fallout of refugees, the broad ‘moral values’ arguments are increasingly suspect.

My short list on these would include:

  • Physician-Assisted Suicide (euthanasia)
  • Same-Sex Marriages/relationships
  • Legalization of Marijuana
  • Abortion
  • Censorship

These are perhaps Church-State issues, but social/demographic changes really put that concept into yesterday’s news. The marijuana issue is a case in point. While the laws in Australia still proscribe the substance the police and courts will not act against users unless there are more serious issues involved. I short, the laws has simply become irrelevant.

The same can be said of most of these personal choice issues, though economics enters the same-sex issues and assisted suicide seems to have an emotional stranglehold. I am on record for my opposition to censorship, particularly when it equates to ‘saving people from their own stupidity’. The ‘nanny-state’ is expensive in more than money terms; it further dilutes concepts of personal responsibility.

Diversions Vs real issues

As an avid proponent for an Australian republic, even I have to concede that the energy expended ridding us of an anachronistic monarchy will not show any great return in resolving real issues. All to often the moral or even constitutional issues serve merely as diversions from addressing the thornier questions.

We do need to focus on a range of vital social issues, but they are corporate rather than personal:

  • Broad economics
  • Universal Health Care
  • Education
  • Immigration
  • Affordable Housing
  • Climate change
  • Law & Justice
  • Human Rights
  • Poverty

These are the issues our politicians, and their partners in crime the media, should be focusing on. These are issues which should be dealt with free of histrionics and emotional language. But politics and the media slip easily into the cynicism of power, and by reneging on our duty of personal responsibility we allow them to lead us where they will.

Defining the terms

In part the problem is even understanding the words we use. In discussing this recently I had a young woman assure me that ‘women’s issues are political!’ Yet on further discussion she conceded that she did not mean in the sense of lawmaking. I expect, in broad terms, she meant that legislation needed to consider women’s issues. I agree, but not to the exclusion of equally or even more needful situations.

The problem will most likely always devolve to sectional and emotional interests. That is why we need a media and body politic evolved beyond the greed/power dynamic. These are of course personal reflections, so while I’m at it I can dream of a post-feminist, post-racist et al language. One where words and definitions unemotional, clear and concise. I don’t expect to find that in my Christmas stocking.

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