LETTERS: Freedom of expression

Monday 4 October 2021 | Written by Supplied | Published in Letters to the Editor, Opinion

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LETTERS: Freedom of expression

Letters for Monday October 4, 2021

Dear Editor

We live in a democracy which has features such as collective decision making, equality among participants and freedom of speech. Which is why the headline in Saturday’s Cook Islands News claiming that ‘voices of dissent’ follow authorities to public meetings’, and stating that a ‘minority group’… is ‘pushing their agenda’ is actually very damaging to community relations and to democracy. 

Te Marae Ora ran a series of consultation meetings with the public at the auditorium and high schools last week about the Pfizer vaccine rollout to 12-15 years olds. Consultation is where all members of the community are invited and encouraged to bring different views, opinions and information to share. Covid-19 and the new vaccines are a matter of concern not just for Te Marae Ora but for all of us. Internationally every month there are new studies and findings on Covid-19 and the vaccines. I thought it was great to see members of our community bravely standing up and sharing their views and information with Te Marae Ora and other attendees. Bob Williams (Secretary of Health) ensured that people were allowed to speak and Te Marae Ora adjusted their presentation over the series of meetings to include issues that members of the community had raised. This is to be commended.

Sharing differing opinions is a sign of a healthy community. To say that people who share their opinions and information at consultation meetings are ‘voices of dissent’ or to call them a ‘minority group’ who are ‘pushing their agenda’ is derogatory, polarising and untrue.  For people to call them ‘anti vaxers’ and ‘conspiracy theorists’ and to dismiss them as such is harmful to our people and inhibits sharing of ideas. Particularly when the issue is about the health of our children. We all have a responsibility to ensure we are making fully informed decisions when it comes to our children as they are our future. We will only get through this together if we show respect and aro’a for each other.

Marie Francis 

Editor: Cook Islands News was merely reporting the comments from the Secretary of Health on the consultations held during the week ahead of the Pfizer vaccine rollout to 12 to 15 years, starting this Friday.

‘Don’t interfere’

How did we go from being a nation being the most vaccinated against measles and other childhood diseases to being so fearful about the Covid vaccination? It is the same people we trusted to give us the other vaccines, who are making the decisions for this one. 

As for the small group of vigilantes storming the information nights, especially those who don’t have kids who qualify for the jab – be quiet, you can say your piece but you are by no way more informed than the doctors just because you can google something. Why didn’t you stand up against the other vaccines?

If we are 97 per cent vaccinated in the eligible population, are you the remaining 3 per cent or did you have yours but you don’t want us to give it to our children?

Everyone has a right to an opinion, but you do not have a right to interfere in other people listening and making up their own minds with the people and knowledge they have always been able to trust in before. 

Free to choose

(Name and address supplied)