No offence intended… 

Peter Matthews

I found myself on the receiving end of a bit of a ticking off on Monday. It was Anzac Day. I contacted a colleague from another company on a matter to do with work on Monday morning and was duly reprimanded for doing so. My behaviour in carrying out any sort of work prior to 1pm was “highly disrespectful”.

Somewhat taken aback, I apologised immediately for any offence caused.

Then I received a message telling me that I had, in fact, breached the ‘trading act’ [sic] but that the person knows me well enough to know that I ‘would not have realised – so all good’.

It’s not in my nature to be told I have breached an act of Parliament and leave it at that, so I got onto the New Zealand Legislation and Real Estate Institute of New Zealand websites to see what I could find.

It turned out I hadn’t breached any act, although the Reinz does encourage consideration of the “special nature” of certain days including Easter and Anzac Day. Fair enough too. In retrospect, had I thought about it, I may well have refrained from making the call.

Originally devised to honour the members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps who served in the Gallipoli Campaign, Anzac Day has become a national day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand that broadly commemorates all Australians and New Zealanders “who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations”.

There has historically been some antagonism towards the day, mainly due to the former legal ban on commerce and, indeed, the banning by many local authorities of sporting and other entertainment events.

In the context of our society, Anzac Day remembers men and women who have made sacrifices in the defence of Australia and New Zealand, the defence of freedom.

In these increasingly PC times I find that one has to be ever more careful not to cause any kind of offence, which will be eagerly taken by ever widening sectors of the community. Comedians, in particular, are finding themselves in hot water, seemingly at every turn.

But freedom is a precious thing, and to have one’s freedom, whether of speech or action, curtailed by another individual’s proclivity for the taking of offence, or opinion as to what constitutes a lack of respect, is surely the thin end of an autocratic wedge.

You will, no doubt, have noticed that I am leaving out one important consideration: Whilst I have every moral right to do what I like on any day of the year, I do not have the moral right unilaterally to impinge upon the beliefs, views, liberties, or customs of others.

Therefore I apologise unreservedly to my colleague for encroaching uninvited upon their day of remembrance, and I shall endeavour to be more considerate in the future. I shall, however, continue to work, rest, or play whenever and wherever it may be necessary. This is an invaluable freedom in defence of which so many have given so much.

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