Christchurch Mosque Shooting - Stop Hate Speech and Extreme Violence

Exploring the Christchurch Botanical Gardens in Christchurch, New Zealand allowed me to discover my own secret garden full of color.

I was really knocked around by the senseless killing of innocents praying at the Al Noor Mosque and the Linwood Islamic Centre in Christchurch, New Zealand on March 15, 2019.

The fact that the slaughter occurred during Friday Prayer only heightens the calculated callousness with which the perpetrator went about committing this heinous crime.

Clearly action must follow so that we can begin to change the tide of these, now frequent, terrorist mass shootings around the world.

At times of darkness it’s my habit to look towards the light. New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, has shown the tolerant and compassionate nature that’s at the heart of Kiwi society.

News reports have showcased Prime Minister Ardern’s authentic nature and it’s evident that her response demonstrates a leader who, while shaken, is stoic, determined and compassionate.

The changes Prime Minister Adern has signaled to gun laws as likely to follow on from the Christchurch killings are reasonable, logical and an important step to protecting all New Zealanders from similar attrocities in the future.

I fully support Prime Minister Adern’s intentions and hope that they will provide the momentum that results in similar reforms in my own country, Australia, and elsewhere.

Or we could continue to watch the slaughter of innocent people.

Fallen flower petals carpet the ground in color in the Christchurch Botanical Gardens in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Stop the Proliferation of Hate Speech and Extreme Violence

It may take a long time to turn this wave of ultra right wing, fascist discontent around. But we have to start somewhere. And we need to start now.

There needs to be a much higher degree of collaboration and effort from politicians, civil and religious leaders and large corporations in this regard.

Introducing commonsense to xenophobic, disengaged and disillusioned people is going to require a significant and long term approach. And it must start with the corrosive and non-productive political debate in our own countries.

It will then be time for the shock jocks on radio and television. They need to be replaced with more reasonable voices, for the good of all.

Reasonable People Are Too Often Apathetic

Just as in politics, the battle is often won in the middle ground, because that's where the views and opinions of normal, everyday reasonable people shift from right to left and back again.

I don’t consider myself to be a particularly political person and would like to consider myself to be part of the sensible centre.

It’s been a policy of mine to produce beautiful life affirming content and, in doing so, to gentle nudge people towards a more engaged and creative life.

I usually keep quite when it comes to political debate. Often because I find the arguments, on either side, to be overly simplistic and not terribly well informed.

Sometimes, like many other people, I feel the problems that we face all seem too hard to deal with and too far into the future to act upon. I’ve waited for a government to take the kind of long term action that’s required to build a safer, more tolerant and inclusive society.

But enough is enough. My own apathy has led to a failure to express sensible viewpoints. That makes me part of the problem.

A tree branch divides a colorful carpet of flowers in the Christchurch Botanical Gardens in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Should Freedom Of Expression Be Tempered?

Why should it only be extreme viewpoints that catch our attention on social media and are given so much attention in the news media?

The messages that reach us should be broad and diverse but, to my way of thinking, the masses need to be protected from the extreme views of ultra radical hate speech.

Freedom of expression should not provide an open door for extremists to penetrate the consciousness of decent people.

Immediate Action To Silence Hate Speech

It seems to me that there should be much more pressure on social media channels to stop the posting and sharing of such horrendous content.

To achieve this it's necessary to remove the opportunity for oxygen being added to the fires these people start. That's where social media comes in.

Anyone who posts such content should be immediately and permanently banned from social media, across all channels.

It's for the social media channels to determine where the line exists and then to communicate that in clear and unequivocal language to those folk who use these platforms.

If social media companies fail to self police then that power should be imposed onto the social media platforms by legislators.

Perhaps social media platforms would be forced by government to pay the costs for independent companies to manage the blocking of such content and the suspension or banning of users who break agreements regarding hate speech, violence and the expression of extremist viewpoints.

The market share, as a percentage of users, for these platforms will not be affected if offenders who breach clear and obvious protocols are banned across all social media platforms simultaneously.

Perhaps anyone who then re-shares this kind of content could be suspended from all social media platforms for a period of time (e.g., 90 days).

If these social media platforms fail to act, quickly and decisively, then they should be fined a significant amount of money and face the potential of their platform being closed down for a period of time.

Vibrant crimson flowers in the Christchurch Botanical Gardens, Christchurch, New Zealand.

Time For Worldwide Legislation

We all know Facebook and the like can't be trusted to act in the best interests of account customers, by which I mean consumers. It's important for us to realize that it’s advertisers, not consumers, who are the customers of Facebook.

This issue has nothing to do with right or wrong, left or right. It goes far beyond the pettiness of local politics.

What I'm talking about is the need for millions of people around the world to be protected from hate speech and extreme violence.

Most folks want government out of their face. But we all need government and the legal system to provide reasonable boundaries inside which we can express our views and learn from each other without the threat of physical or psychological abuse.

Red and yellow flowers produce a scene of harmonious color at the Christchurch Botanical Gardens in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Are You Happy With Your Own Life?

Do we actually live in a kind, safe, inclusive and prosperous society?

You could argue that it's all relative and compare life in Melbourne, Helsinki or Seattle with living under a totalitarian regime.

However, few would say our societies are what they should be.

Despite advancements in technology, are we any happier. We live a mostly sedentary existance and rely on technology to keep us passively entertained but, as a consequence, we’ve become disengaged from actual physical communities.

Has our physiological evolution stalled?

Are we actively pursuing a meaning rich and purpose driven life?

Will we continue to fail ourselves and each other?

Perhaps a good start would be to take a break from social media. Say a 30-day, self imposed ban. The more people who'd do this the less attention would be placed there by advertisers and the more social media platforms would respect their user base.

I hardly ever use social media. Over recent weeks I haven't even used it to promote my own blog posts. I'm glad to say I've never experienced any level of addiction with social media.

I'm one of the lucky ones. But we all make decisions that influence our actions. And those actions determine our happiness, success and personal growth.

I vote for engagement, community and a kinder, more empathetic and pluralist society. What about you?

Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru