M. WAHANUI writes (letters, May 16) re the inconsiderate cyclists on the council-provided shared walkways.

I often ride along this shared walkway and also note the behaviour of cyclists and of walkers. The majority of cyclists and walkers are considerate.

However, while I agree with M.Wahanui, I must also comment on the walkers. The majority of these good souls just walk and are on the lookout for cyclists and those with dogs are generally considerate. Those with a dog on a long leash are not. These walkers believe they have a divine right to allow their dog to wander from side to side of the walkway and are a danger to cyclists.

The same goes for the generation who cannot walk but rather scuff their way along. These people who are terrified to be seen and wear hoodies, with head down texting and ears plugged to hear music, are a danger to themselves, the other walkers and also to cyclists. These young members of the human race become abusive and threaten violence when suddenly confronted by a geriatric rider such as myself.

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I also use my bell to warn of my approach from behind. However, if the poor soul ahead has his/her head down while messaging on a phone and ears plugged to ensure they are becoming permanently damaged with loud sound, then I cannot be blamed for scaring these souls as I fly by on my electrified steed.

PETER FARRELL
Marton


Define hate speech

There has been no coherent definition of the scope and range of "hate speech". I certainly have no faith in our politicians who will soon be facing re-election or rejection.

Facebook has removed 265 "fake" accounts originating in Israel with nary a whisper in the media. Is reporting that "hate speech"?

We are going down a wormhole of no return.

I demand the right to free views on religion, abortion, euthanasia, ethnicity, privacy and movement, not to be confused with "ratio popularis" (democracy).

It's called free speech, and beware of those who oppose it. In my humble opinion they have another agenda.

And don't get me started on who "owns" our water.

Stand up!

KEN CRAFAR
Durie Hill


Social experiment

Someone recently wrote that social media is a social experiment none of us signed on for. Like all experiments, we should examine results as they come to hand.

Israel Folau's use of social media to post his message attracted many participants into an emotive issue.

Many of the responses argued freedom of speech versus hateful speech. All that Folau did was to express his strongly held belief, hoping to help people.

In recent years church leaders, including the Pope, have voiced their opinion that God made people the way they were, thereby accepting non-heterosexuality as part of humankind. Scientific evidence demonstrates our sexuality is a part of our DNA.

But these facts mean nothing to a young person feeling uncertain about their sexuality. Messages they read or hear can increase their anxiety and lead into depression. Former gay rugby league player Ian Roberts has stated that messages like Folau's can and do push kids who are dealing with their sexuality over the edge.

Israel's post reached fans as well as those wanting to emulate him; he is, after all, a leading figure in the world of rugby.

At the time of reading his message there exists the potential for one or more to be feeling anxious or even depressed due to sexual uncertainty. Can Israel be absolutely certain that his post has not been the impetus for a young person making an irreversible mistake?

Although certainly not his intention, it could well be a consequence.

Mental Health advocate Mike King has stated that what young people who are anxious, depressed or suicidal want more than anything is to feel heard.

With New Zealand having the highest suicide rate in the OECD, social media has a role to play in lowering it.

The social experiment will continue, that is a certainty. Texting opinions not supported by evidence-based facts, or beliefs not shared across a wider community will have widely diverse consequences due to the number of participants. Being respectful of the whole community requires treating everyone with the same respect the writer would want for themselves.

MAX WARBURTON
Whanganui


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