Blog: Human Rights Aces Free Speech

By Colleen Brown

Free speech should be treated with respect.

Democracy is a funny old system. It gives everyone the right to voice an opinion. The right.

Even if we don’t agree with some of those opinions, most of us would concede that universally people in this country, have the right to free speech.

This week’s Attitude programme focused on Nikki Stokes and her family and the wonderful way she supports them all to be the best they can. Many families who have disabled members would have been able to identify with the life Nikki leads.

Usually people consider the impact or how their views might be received.

And then there are those who haven’t got a clue.

So when people start writing posts talking about eugenics we all feel uncomfortable. This is especially so when it isn’t about an abstract academic form of eugenics theorised in the 1880s, but the kind of eugenics practised by the worst political regimes our world has ever seen. When people believe that forced abortions for babies considered less-than-perfect is the answer or that some all-knowing agency will make such decision, the majority of us reading such posts shudder at the belief. In this day and age, we ask ourselves. Really!

So for the people who think that way, they need to know that there are others in this world who see the good, the love shining on the faces of disabled children and their parents as evidenced in Attitude’s programme on Nikki Stokes and her wonderful family.



Those people need to know that we admire the way Nikki and her family opened up their home and their lives for us all to learn from them, to rejoice in the fact that these five children have an amazing family, that they are all cherished and adored and that in turn they adore each other. Such precious wonderful qualities any family would be proud to possess.

Because unfortunately, there are those people who look for the deficits, who brush away those words called 'love', 'commitment', 'trust' and 'loyalty', who look for the negatives, the things people don’t have and who want to create a 'perfect world' - their way. Those people preach that their way is the only way and that those who do not 'fit' the structure of their ideal society need to be eradicated. They want to take away a person’s right to life, to be part of a family and to contribute to society.

These people live in a democratic world that gives them the right to write about and voice such convictions. But they deny others that same right.

It's okay not to be able to meet every single demand. It's ok to just be enough. It's okay to feel like you're failing. It's okay to get help - Nikki Stokes

For those of us who live that, at times, relentless life of managing the 'disability' sector and all its challenges, to read such vile comments is sickening. Such comments demean Nikki Stokes' family. They touch the innocence of those children and once said, those words cannot be taken away.

But I know the life I would choose – the shining life full of love and laughter, yes the endless tasks, but the one of a complete family, a loved family, a positive family full of hope and dedication, just like the one Nikki and her family showed us on Attitude. I would choose that life over any deficit model – that is the stuff of nightmares.

And as I do live in a democracy, I am thankful every day that I do get the right to choose.

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