Public Eye

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 15 September, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 15 September, 2010, 12:00am

Merkel's talking nonsense on free speech

Public Eye will try to make some sense out of what German Chancellor Dr Angela Merkel said about free speech last week. But we can't guarantee you we'll succeed. That's because what she said is senseless.

Merkel said that Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard had every right to draw his 2006 cartoons showing the Prophet Mohammed as a terrorist. 'Whether they are necessary or helpful or tasteful or not doesn't matter,' the chancellor said. 'Is he allowed to do it? Yes, he is.' She even presented him with a free speech award. But Merkel condemned American pastor Terry Jones for wanting to burn the Koran. 'It is plainly disrespectful, even abhorrent. It's simply wrong.'

So let's try and make some sense out of this. Is Merkel saying it's bad taste to burn the Koran, but not so to depict the Prophet as a suicide bomber with hidden grenades in his turban? Or is she saying we don't have the freedom to mock Muslims by burning the Koran but we do to depict the founder of their religion as a terrorist? Maybe she's saying Muslims find Koran burning more offensive than having the Prophet satirised as a suicide bomber. Is that right, all you Muslims out there? Are you more OK with the Prophet pictured as a terrorist than your holy book being burned? Read what Merkel said again about Westergaard's cartoons, that it doesn't matter whether they were tasteful or not but that he had a right to draw them. If taste shouldn't rob a cartoonist of the right to insult Islam why should it rob a pastor of the right to do so? We told you she didn't make sense.

Buses spewing filth until 2019, thanks to greed

Please hold your breath until 2019 if you don't want to get sick. We're serious. You see all those buses clogging our city streets? Well, 2,600 of them - 40 per cent of our public bus fleet - are spewing out such filth you don't want to know. But you're breathing it in. So are your kids. The gunge is going through the nose, down the throat and into the lungs of that cute little baby of yours, the one that's just starting to crawl. That baby will be about 10 by the time those filthy buses are ordered off the roads. That's right, your government wants your baby to breathe in all the dirt until 2019. Our officials don't think your baby's health is a big enough deal for them to make the bus companies get rid of the polluting buses sooner. And the bus companies? Well, so what if your kid gets asthma? Maximising profits is more important than stopping a kid getting sick.

A green group teamed up with some politicians last week to say getting rid of the buses sooner would stop 200,000 people getting sick each year. You want to know how they propose getting rid of them? By bribing the bus companies with your money. If the government subsidises cleaner buses with your tax dollars bus companies can still pocket maximised profits. Makes perfect sense. Why should the companies pay to get rid of the pollution they cause? You should.

The sinking Star Ferry company - we were right to worry

Remember what the government said when it destroyed the old Central Star Ferry pier? It assured us the new pier's remote location wouldn't stop people from riding the ferries. It has. The money-losing ferry firm now wants to scrap its Hung Hom to Central and Wan Chai routes. Another part of history will soon die. You know who to thank.

Can men now wear dresses?

Public Eye applauds the Equal Opportunities Commission for suing a school which forced a female teacher to wear a dress instead of trousers to work. The school got so scared it paid the teacher damages in an out-of-court settlement. We agree with the commission that the settlement sends a loud message that gender stereotyping will not be tolerated. So if you're a male teacher don't be afraid to wear a dress to work. We know the commission will stand by you. It's only fair.