On the discrimination and free speech Question

Today as I was speaking with some work colleagues here in the Netherlands where I am emigrant, during the coffee break, one of them got quite offended when I made a slight joke about Jews. We were discussing how the Dutch are quite rational, when the mobility issues are concerned, which I strongly agree, and they were disagreeing with me, saying the Dutch rationality always applies to money. They were referring the Dutch national healthcare system is just money oriented, and not that much concerned about taking care of people. I replied on a quite naive way "They were founded by Jews".

One of my colleagues was so upset with my cliché that I got really amazed how can such a naive joke, create such a harm. I replied that we cannot now, create another dictatorship in which some subjects are not allowed to mention. He replied that, I touched a very sensitive cliché, a forbidden subject. After strong reflexion and meditation I realized that his reaction can only has one explanation: trauma.

The country where I come from, Portugal, was never directly involved in the second world war, we didn't have holocaust, nor any kind of strong Nazi propaganda. We were not invaded by any panzer Blitzkrieg, our cities were not bombarded, and considering the fact that our dictator at the time made the country officially neutral, we were not that affected by WWII as other European countries were. So, after the war, the collective feeling was not traumatic regarding the war effects. We have also our collective traumas, for example in Portugal, it is almost forbidden to publicly say anything positive about our ruler and dictator Salazar, who governed the country for 40 years between 1928 and 1968. And without any type of doubt, he put the public finances in order at that time. That's the scientific definition of trauma: you loose your reason due to a painful experience and you're commanded by fear. This type of individual experience can be generalized to a collective experience if we speak about a group of people or a nation.

What is my philosophical approach to such issue?

We shall never, never, never discriminate anyone, due to its gender, race, ethnicity, nationality, age, religion, sexual orientation or any kind of distinguishing features. That is basically what is stated in every country's constitution in the western world. But a black man, will always be black, and a white man will always be white (I had a very good friend of mine that used to tell me "I'm not black, I'm brown"). The truth, which I will not abnegate as a Socratic and Platonic follower, tells me that I will never discriminate a black man for being black, and I will always fight anyone who tries to do it, but the colour of their skin will always be different from one white man. As the true precise pictorial colour of my skin it is at some point different from my brother's. In the nineties in Portugal we had an outstanding public campaign which describes my point: "All different, All equal".

During all my life I had black friends and black mates, my best friend when I was at high school was black. When I was still a child I had a black nurse, so I keep the most passionate and respectful feelings towards black people. We shall never discriminate anyone for being black, white, yellow, Jew, Christian or Asian, and the Netherlands has a very good positive example to give the world, but we cannot at all, mislead the Truth, based on such precepts. When I say for instance to someone, that statistically, black people are more successful in Olympics, when the sport demands athletic premises, I am accused of being racist. Shall the numbers be neglected? If I say that, statistically, the Portuguese are not that good at Chess in the international contests, am I making any kind of national discrimination? If I say that, statistically, Asians are very good on Olympic gymnastics, am I making an ethnical discrimination? If I say that Dutch are taller than the Portuguese, am I making a national discrimination?

And what about the jokes

A free person with no traumas accept any type of jokes. If there is a fat boy, that always has been fat, and feels psychologically depressed and pain due to its weight condition, if someone makes a joke about fat people, it will harm him. The same applies to gays in Europe, to black people in north america or to Jews in Germany. A trauma, caused by a painful experience, makes the jokes regarding those subjects, not a pleasurable, but a painful experience. I am a Christian and I realize that almost anyone nowadays can make jokes about the Pope, about Jesus, about Mohammed or to any kind of sacred symbol. It harms me a bit, but I simply don't care, because I try to have an open mind. When some time ago Danish and French newspapers made some cartoons about Muhammad; after strong protests, European leaders basically stated that, the european case law, having freedom as one of the its main pillars, would allow any type of critics and jokes. They forgot to mention, that any kind of similar jokes towards Jews or gays, are not at all socially accepted or tolerated in Europe. Recently, the Portuguese gay and lesbian organization was publicly chocked, even considering a criminal process, because a famous popular singer made a song joking with the gay marriage. And this singer, publicly said, that he agrees with this type of marriages.


I have many years ago established my boundaries on what I can say or do, and for me human life, is and always will be, sacred and inviolable. It seems it is not like that in every culture. For instance in USA it is more socially open to criticism a public joke about gays, than the bombarding of Bagdad. Obviously that we don't want, as good humans we are, to harm other people's feelings, so we shall be sensitive to issues that can cause psychological harm or discomfort. But human life is much more important than psychological discomfort, and despite the fact you may say that one thing is not connected the other one, we shall always prioritize what is more socially allowable. And the pathway to the Truth demands pain (read the Allegory of the Cave, from Plato), and we, as freeman and freewoman, want to be able to address any type of subjects without fear or constraints, always with the maximum respect to human life and any type of race or creed. My conclusion is that orality is much more powerful when the feelings are concerned, so, these subjects preferably shall not be talked, but simply written, as reading a subject obliges the reader to have a more analytical and reasonable approach to hot issues.

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