1cm for Human Rights

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Yesterday I asked my Facebook peers a question.

Is it acceptable to take your children to watch you get a tattoo for Human Rights at the Bassline?

004-international-declaration-of-human-rights-posterI was expecting widespread condemnation.

I was pleasantly surprised to find out that most of my friends are a quirky as I am and fully supported this rather unusual foray into parenting.

When I reread the question I had written I was struck by its ambiguity.

Was it the venue I was unsure of or the tattoo?

I am still not certain.

I need to point out that if The Husband was not somewhere beginning with C this week, I would have gone solo.

But as it happened the father off my beloved offspring was in somewhere beginning with C so the option was moot.

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“We are going a grand adventure!” I announced.

“Can I bring my iPad?” was the answer.

On the trip into the inner heart Johannesburg we were at first led astray by my inexplicable decision to trust the stupid American GPS lady who quite obviously had no idea where she was leading us.

Once I had reasserted my authority over this virtual directionally challenged bint, we arrived at our destination.

I then had to fork over R20 to ensure my car’s safety and security, only to discover shortly afterward that there was a private secure parking lot I could have chosen. Never mind.

Click to visit Bassline
Click to visit Bassline

We went to the front of the club.

We went to the side of the club.

We went to the other side of the club.

We went to the back of the club.

Aha!

Success.

We had found the Human Rights Tattoo initiative.

slide1I signed up and we went for hot chocolate, chocolate mousse and snails at Sophiatown – a truly fabulous restaurant next door to an equally fabulous little bar where the band let my kids help set up for their set.

Then the rain came down.

So we danced in the rain all the way back.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is made up of 6 773 letters.

(Obviously not 6 773 different letters, the alphabet is not that long. Argh! You know what I mean.)

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The plan is to tattoo the declaration one letter at time on 6 773 consecutive people forming a walking, talking, breathing declaration.

It appealed to me on some primal level.

I wanted a tattoo that meant something, but couldn’t think of what.

I wanted a symbol of what I believe in, what I stand for, for the type of world I want for my children.

I want a world for them where human rights aren’t a question, a dream or an ideal, but a truth, a reality and the norm.

I wanted to be part of something bigger than me.

Something that said: You know what?

6 773 of us care.

Fair-hearing-UDHRBecause it is not okay to rape a 6 week old baby.

It is not okay to keep people in slavery.

It is not okay to deny education or healthcare.

It is not okay to bury your head in the sand and shake your head when you read the headlines.

It is up to you to stand up and do something about it.

By having this reminder on my body every time I look down I remember how I choose to live my life, so that every action I take is directed by 30 tenets that are obvious they should never have had to be written down.

Last night my children learned a lesson.

They learned about the city we call home.

They learned that R20 can feed a family.

They learned that grown ups can be so stupid they forget the things that children know.

They learned grown ups need to be reminded to be good as often as kids need to be reminded to put their toys away.

Joining me last night were businessmen, lawyers, hippies, emo children, homeless guys, ad executives, doctors, architects, rappers, teachers – people from all walks of life united by a single small action.

Visual art collective Tilburg CowBoys and Festival Mundial are the passion behind the ideal that is taking the Human Rights Tattoo initiative across the world.

So far they have tattooed people from Holland, Spain, Kenya and now South Africa.

1459302_10151672832166116_13697181_nNearly 1 500 people have already joined the movement.

I am the L in impartial.

I am number 1283.

I am proud my children were there to watch me make this pledge.

Even if they were disappointed I did not cry or scream or spout blood like a B-Grade horror movie victim.

So, when they come to your country or your town, why not donate 1 cm of your skin to human rights?

Hey, it’s better than getting your girlfriend’s name etched on your ass and have her break up with you 2 days later.

If you missed the Baseline in Johannesburg last night, you can still catch them in Soweto on Saturday morning at Slaghuis.

Just go to http://www.humanrightstattoo.org/ or find them on Facebook.

To find out more about Bassline or Sophiatown, just click on the images and off you go.

But, and there is always a but.

Perhaps having an L tattooed on my right wrist wasn’t the most intelligent option ever.

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The Naked Blogger

Being a blogger is like taking all your clothes off and walking starkers down Main Street. It opens you up to all kinds of crazy.

Of course, you’re sharing your personal brand of crazy too. And that’s okay.

When you prepared to let it all hang out, it is worthwhile realising that people do actually read your blog – yep, I know, believe it or not.

If you don’t intend people to read it and want to keep it as a personal odyssey keep it offline.

Now, March 21 is Human Rights Day in South Africa. It commemorates the horrific massacre at Sharpville, but that’s not what this about, it’s about what happened as a result.

Instead of being “Just Another Public Holiday” (which in all honesty it is) we are encouraged to take the day to remember what our human and civil rights are, as set out first in the Freedom Charter and then in our terribly progressive, yet utterly useless, constitution.

One of the most important things to remember in South Africa is that unlike in America, my right not to be offended or discriminated against outweighs your right of freedom of speech. This applies to every sphere public and private.

It means you don’t get to call me a bitch or the C-word.

It means you don’t get to use the N-word or the K-word.

Ever.

It means that racist, homophobic, xenophobic or sexist speech is a criminal offence.

Yes, even on a blog.

I don’t care if you’re a proud white supremacist with a pillow case over your head.

Go wild and have a pillow case party all by yourself in the real world, but spreading your particular brand of poison in the public sphere is not only politically incorrect (we are BIG on political correctness in South Africa), it is criminal.  140_with_great_power

Blogging is a lot like being Spiderman (or Winston Churchill).

With great power comes great responsibility.

Think about what you’re saying.

Think about the effect it has on other people.

 

So when Emporer Lubu waxes lyrical on the feminine ideal according to his world which is inhabited entirely by a sex he likes to call the bitches (and not in a friendly “Hey! Bee-atches” kind of way), I wonder if he stopped to think:”Gee, if R. Edneck were to read this and go home to his trailer and beat his wife into a pulp because his beer wasn’t cold, would I in any way feel I was partly to blame for condoning and justifying his actions that were only intended to train her properly, after all he wouldn’t have hit her if the bitch hadn’t talked back in the first place?”

Having a blog is not a licence to trash your ex, find SWF’s you want to cook and eat for dinner, share your sexual fantasies about children and sheep, or let loose a vitriolic stream of hatred.

By all means spark debate, start a conversation, be controversial, but watch out for that line. In simpler words – don’t be an asshole.

And if you feel your loathing of all women, gays, blacks, Jews, Muslims etc. is worthy of sharing with the world, be prepared to deal with those who disagree.

And for heaven’s sake add a little bit of self-deprecating humour so you don’t come off as a total <insert P-word here>.