Are we now freer to be who we really are? Compared with, say, three or four decades ago, can we be different, and yet free from persecution?
The answer to this question, for those of us lucky enough to live in the “free West” – as we used to say – is yes, with caveats. Discrimination is not quite what it used to be, whether it were on colour, creed, way of life or some other property that may differentiate us from “others”. Indeed we are freer to be that “other”. Censorship is no longer as cretinous as it once was, think of the days of Lady Chatterley’s, though it persists in other subtler forms. There is no longer any Joe McCarthy around the place to tell us what is to be “un-American”, or for that matter, un-whatever we happen to be born, or is there? Not quite is again the answer.
For there are other forms of discrimination, for example on right to work, right to a roof, or decent healthcare, to name a few. In fact we know from numerous statistics that our societies are more unequal, in income, housing, health, education terms than fifty years ago. Yet we are free, free to display our “difference”, and claim our right to it.
Image: Edgar Degas, Carnet 25, source