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Cheers - AE

Sunday, 10 May 2009

I'm all in favour of free speech, but...

Many people before me have pointed out that whenever someone says they're in favour of free speech and promptly tack a 'but' on the end they're showing that they're really not in favour of free speech at all. It's one of those things that's a true absolute. Free speech is unconditional by definition since the second you start putting conditions on it it's no longer free. So having had Matthew Parris raise my blood pressure already today (see below) I wasn't exactly thrilled to see "I'm all in favour of free speech, but..." from another Times journo:
It must come as shock to be aggressively banned from visiting a weird little country when you weren't planning to anyway...
This, in essence, is what has happened to the US “shock jock” Michael Savage with his inclusion on a list of people banned from the UK by Jacqui Smith...
...bizarrely and probably by accident, I think Ms Smith might have a point. It's just that she's so spinelessly useless at making it.
“Of course,” she'll bleat, “we're not against free speech, but...” Stop it. Grow some balls. Yes you are against free speech. Almost all Brits are. It's in our nature.
Yes, it's probably true that many Brits aren't really in favour of free speech since so many would also come out with the "I'm all for free speech, but..." line without having considered that the last word invalidates the rest of them. Perhaps more are waking up to this since free speech has been so badly eroded by Ingsoc Nulabour, and the issue has had some extra coverage recently thanks to Jacqboot's retarded decision to impose a similar ban on entering Britain on Geert Wilders. Now it may well be that the opinions of Wilders or Savage or both have some sympathy with certain parts of the British public, and those people object to state censorship on views similar to their own. And it might be that some people disagree with one or both of them but find the opinions of certain other people, Abu Hamza say, just as offensive, and so they object to the unequal treatment that censors some extreme views but permits others. And I'd hope that an increasing number have given the issue some fucking thought and realized that if someone you despise can't say something you find offensive and completely disagreeable then you don't live somewhere that permits free speech. It really is as cut and dried as that, the old disagree-with-what-you-say-but-defend-your-right-to-say-it thing.

So when journos like Hugo Rifkind point out that there really isn't free speech in the UK I'm generally glad that the issue is being discussed. And I still am even though Rifkind goes on to say that he's really anti free speech himself.
Personally I'm quite proud that Britain won't put up with this sort of thing. And that's just me. I barely believe in anything. So what's wrong with Ms Smith? Did you hear her on the TV news? A morass of drivel. “Fallen into the category of blah blah, intercommunity waffle waffle.” And this from a woman who has supposedly devoted her life to the progressive Labour movement. Where's the passion? Where's the fire? Where's the courage in her supposed convictions? Where's the bit where she thumps her chest and says, “yes, this man is vile, damn right we'll turn him away at passport control”?
I can only hope he's joking, because otherwise I have to say that while I defend his right to oppose free speech I disagree with what he's saying. And I hope that he falls out of a window and that his fall is broken rather inefficiently by Jacqboot Smith's brain.
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