As a former banker I was interested to read some research published by Which today which said that those in the profession were now trusted less than estate agents.  Only journalists and politicians carry less respect with the public!

My daughter Holly was on the front page of a newspaper supplement reporting school exam results last night along with 3 of her school friends.  The photograph, which is a full-page, is drab, underexposed, and flatters none of them.  H is not impressed.  “Why would they do that?”  (Clearly she is used to higher standards!)

Nevertheless the question, aimed at the journalistic fraternity in general, is a valid one in a week when grubby editors around Europe try vainly to justify the publication of photographs of undersized royal mammaries as being in the public interest, suggesting that she played a part in the row by sunbathing topless in full view of a public road.  A public road that passes the balcony of the Château where she was staying by no less than a kilometre.  How careless of her!  I wonder at the quality of the images shot at such a distance and the disappointment of my European neighbours who fork out to be titillated by what must be blurred and artifacted photographs.

This is a relatively minor infraction compared to the efforts of the journalists at another French publication; Charlie Hebdo which in publishing obscene cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad is carelessly fanning the flames of unrest which has already claimed some 30 lives as a result of the Innocence of Muslims video posted on YouTube.  (Do the French not have a Lord Leveson?)

Freedom of speech is an important right to many of us in the West, but that doesn’t give us the right to wield it without consequence.  Across the pond there are many Americans who point to their right to bear arms, but that doesn’t extend to firing those weapons indiscriminately in directions where they can do most harm.  A mass murderer who guns down their victims in this way is rightly condemned, yet in sheltering under the “Freedom of the Press” banner, the journalists of Charlie Hebdo risk causing just as much mayhem.

The quote “With great power comes great responsibility” is widely attributed to Spiderman Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben, though it can be traced to the writer and philosopher Voltaire.  How ironic that it should be coined by a Frenchman!

All of this on a day when as a consultant I’ve been talking about how to raise issues constructively without causing conflict.

My portrait today is of a young Kuwaiti named Amin.  I don’t know his religious views, but being a Kuwaiti Arab he is likely to be Muslim.  As appropriate, given that his name means trustworthy we had a civilized and co-operative encounter today born out of showing each other respect.  I wish more of the world would do the same.

 

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