Monday, 23 August 2010

Sex Appeal

Does the freedom of speech allow us to say what we want, when we want?

Some say it’s the most basic and fundamental of human rights. In the USA they call it the first amendment. The freedom of speech is a privilege that should never be taken for granted, misused or abused by anyone... even marketers.

Freedom of speech assumes more than the right to make an audible noise. Firstly it assumes the ability to communicate through written, signed, acted, or verbal language. It assumes that the speaker has sufficient knowledge to communicate with their audience using appropriate language, analogy and concepts. The speaker should also
have an understanding of both their position and that of their audience. This engenders the second and most significant prerequisite of speech: community.

Community is the most integral ingredient of any conversation; without it no one and nothing can exist. It is only as individuals relate to others that they take on an identity; uniqueness is understood in community not isolation. We owe a lot to community. Not only does community shape our identity; it supplies the tools of speech and grants us the freedom to use them.

As the sum of its parts, community is fragile and vulnerable. A healthy community requires its members to be positive contributors. When community members decide against honouring the trust extended to them, community breaks down. Why then do we so often exploit its weaknesses in order to gain personally? Given that it is the community that has granted us the privilege of free speech, we should ensure that our ‘words’ serve and develop rather than take from and ravage it.

In the 21st century we have more communication tools available than ever before. As our ability to ‘speak’ has developed, so must our understanding. There are still many people who the community rejects; people who are not listened to – that must be corrected, but those of us to whom the privilege has been extended must learn to use it well and be considerate of the impact our ‘words’ have.

It is my belief that greater than our individual right to exercise free speech is our responsibility to make positive contributions to the community that extends to us that privilege. Given the relational and sexual immaturity that devours our sex-craved society, is it still right to use it as a gimmick? I think it’s time for the unimaginative marketers who use sex to do the job they can’t, to get creative.

Dan Chalke