Call me lazy. Call me disorganized. Call me irresponsible. That’s how it will be. Do you feel tired one spring morning? Do you keep on listening to butterflies in your stomach and slow down? Or do you revolt to spite life?
We all know every single day is a challenge when you live in this neck of the woods. You don’t wake up wondering if something would happen. You find yourself worrying what would happen. Imagine you are at a nice small town near the Aegean one spring morn. You have woken up by the sounds of seagulls and get ready for a nice stroll by the docks. You get into your car turn on the ignition, your radio comes alive and then and there you hear:
“A professor at Some University in central Turkey said that rape is not a crime in most cases because women, when they wear indecent clothing, arouse men’s desires.”
Now your day’s gone! You’ve got to hold yourself together and brace for the truck on the main road in that nice small seaside town tries to crush the hell out of your city slicker of a car.
But hold on a minute. You believe in freedom of speech. The professor had an opinion. The guy’s a Muslim. He believes that no part of women’s flesh should be displayed. He believes that all men are primitive entities and seeing that little piece of flesh we call face, or hands, or legs, or whatever, will go start raping that poor woman. He believes in this. We don’t know. Maybe he was raised in a den, maybe raped continuously by his father. We don’t know. All we know is he sincerely believes in that.
And he is entitled to his opinion. He can hold his own until he goes and champions the thought that women who shows a certain amount of flesh should be stoned to death, or should be punished, or should be shunned, or whatever.
Pupils in Turkey are raised to believe “unity” is a precious thing. We may go argue with each other until the end of time and waste our lives, we may kill each other on the streets forever, we may waste generation after generation for political ideals, we may die of hunger, we may steal, commit adultery, bare false witness, but as long as we are “united”, all is fine and dandy. Furthermore this concept of unity is defined rather vaguely. I might be wrong, but as far as I understand, if the borders of the country remain unchanged and as long as we call everyone living in it Turks, and as long as all minorities shut up and accept discrimination and the tyranny of Sunni Muslims, we are united. What I don’t comprehend is what good this thing called unity serve to all parties. One fact I’m sure about, you cannot serve this unity as food on your dinner table.
Yet majority (meaning whomever it is represented by at a given time) always oppresses everyone else, and be rich or poor, fascist or socialist, everyone shares the common denominator of unhappiness. Freedom is a function of power in such societies. Hence only the thought in fashion is tolerated.
Turkey claims to be a democracy. Democracy is in its core a mode of thinking. And the keyword for success of any democracy is tolerance. Tolerance to opposing views, tolerance to radical thought. Today Mr. David Judson quit his job in Hürriyet Daily News, an English daily newspaper published in İstanbul. His last article titled “–30–“ was a brief but valuable lesson in journalism. I’d like to quote Mr. Judson’s article rather as words of wisdom about democracy;
“…freedom of the press is not just for the virtuous, the imbecilic have equal rights. Fight for them with equal passion. …. So today I bow before each and every [one of you] … not just for what you have endured, but for what you will endure. …. Give ‘em hell. Make a difference.”