Conformity Is Not Freedom

I read that there is a campaign to have a TV presenter sacked for not wearing a poppy. It turned up on my Facebook feed the other day, and I immediately blocked it. This is not normally an issue I have any problem with, but this year, in solidarity with others, I will not be wearing one either.

I have never heard of the presenter in question, and do not know her reasons for not wearing the poppy. But that surely is her choice, and as such, is no one else’s business. To suggest that she be sacked for it is obscene. But you have to, people whine, otherwise it’s disrespectful of those who died in wars, who died to protect our country and its way of life. Really? Have we really become that intolerant and stupid?

I’ve studied history, so am well aware – perhaps more so than some of the campaigners – of what my grand-parents’ generation did in World War II. Our way of life faced an existential threat, and they fought to protect it. That is not in dispute. However, these campaigners seem to have little real grasp of just what “our way of life” actually is. Surely what was fought for was our freedom, and that must include freedom of thought, speech and expression. If it is qualified to being only free if you conform, do what everyone else does, because it’s expected, the “done thing”, then that is not freedom. Where is the freedom to dissent? That is an essential part of living in a free country.

Let us not forget that it was service personnel in 1945 who played a large part in electing the Labour government, on a radical platform to transform society. That generation had fought and now wanted payback for their sacrifices. Did they really fight so everyone must unthinkingly conform and be penalised for not doing so? I certainly hope not. To suggest otherwise, as these campaigners are, is to do their memory a disservice. It is they who are disrespecting the fallen, not this TV presenter. Shame on you all.

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