On the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, approximately 39,900 years ago, a group of our ancestors stencilled outlines of their hands onto the cave walls in which they lived. These are some of the earliest examples, that we know of, whereby humans have created imagery.
If you shoot a person dead, you are rightly held accountable for their death. What happens though if you press a button to initiate a machine that shoots a person, are you just as responsible? How accountable are you if you are in the room at the same time that the process is occurring and you choose do nothing to stop it? Where does the responsibility for the death of a person begin and end?
In the late 1930’s and the early 1940’s Nazi Germany and its allies and satellite states embarked on a process of human extermination. The event we know as the Holocaust saw the most depraved and barbaric actions a human being is able to inflict upon another. Though exact figures are impossible to decide upon, approximately 11 million people were killed for being considered sub-human. Among them were the deaths of over six million Jews, as Adolf Hitler and the Nazis looked to eradicate the Jewish people from the face of the earth.
In camps set up around central and eastern Europe, victims were transported to their deaths. The names of these camps will forever be etched in the history of the human race. A constant reminder of the cruelty that we as a species are capable of. Treblinka, Belzec, Buchenwald, Chelmno, Sobibor and Auschwitz are places that are considered as manifestations of pure evil. It is important to remember though, that evil did not create such suffering and destruction; humans did.
A month ago, on April 5th, Swansea played host to a white pride rally. The events of that day inspired me to write a piece entitled White Pride and Race Hate, and though the aftermath of that event has subsided, the implications and lessons are more long lasting.
Voltaire is famously, though incorrectly, attributed as saying “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend your right to say it”, which seems to form the basic principle of freedom of speech. The idea being that even if you disagree with what your opponent is saying, you cannot doubt that your opponent has the right to speak.
Herein lies the problem, and though I am an advocate and defender of freedom for all people, I think there are times when freedoms should be limited, or at least prioritised.