Free Thinking Weekend : Liverpool 2006.


‘Please say who you are before you speak.’

How will you identify yourself?

You look white, so that’s a pass. Rightly
or wrongly, they will roughly gauge or
guess your age, gender, sexuality,
visible disabilities, social class
and origins, without a word.

Should you declare invisible disabilities?
As recovering alcoholic and drug user.
Mental health service user. Dyslexic.
Homeless. Foreign. Not local.

What about your multiple marginality?
Activist and political troublemaker.
Working-class, unemployed, self-
employed, temporary. Home-based,
housebound, single parent. Musician,
singer, poet. Trade unionist. Secular.

If you have to say who you are,
do you need to own up to your
ambiguous sexual status?
Unattached, celibate, ‘resting’,
in transition. Undecided. Bi.
Abandoned wife, husband, lover.

Can you follow the unambiguous clout
of the professor, the senior executive
or public figure, titled and in role,
by just giving your name before you speak?
Or do you feel disadvantaged?
Inferior before uttering a word.

Can anonymous views, opinions and
insights be accorded equal attention
and respect in public debate?

Can anonymous views, opinions and
insights influence the course of public events?

Whose thinking is ‘free’ in the present?
Unconstrained by power or disadvantage.
Whose ‘freethinking’ will be allowed
to regenerate our city?

By Val Walsh