Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Free Speech - is it still a British virtue?

By Matthew West -                                                                                 
"I've always wondered when people say they've had enough of the UK where they would go and why they think things in any other country would be better. Mostly because I have generally held the belief that the grass really isn't greener elsewhere and that actually we've generally got it quite good here.
But as the years have gone by I've been sorely tempted to utter the immortal words: "Right that's it. I'm emigrating. This country is going to hell in a hand basket!"

I haven't quite done so. Yet."

" I know I fall into the category of lunatic for bringing up Voltaire but I really do fall into the camp where I may not agree with everything a person says but I will defend to the death their right to say it. I really would die for free speech. It's one of my few - and I mean few - absolute principles. Pretty much everything else is up for negotiation. If you think you can change my mind on a subject you're welcome to give it a try. But free speech isn't up for negotiation."

By Philip Johnston                                                                     The Telegraph

"Sadly, the past two decades have seen a pusillanimous flight into cowering capitulation. We seem to have forgotten what free speech entails, how hard it was fought for and how important it is to defend. It is the value with which this country is most associated throughout the world. It is why Britain has been home, over the centuries, to so many political dissidents who would have been persecuted elsewhere, and why those who live in autocracies that brook no criticism tune into the BBC World Service."

"People have always been free under the criminal law to speak their minds, provided they did not, in doing so, incite others to commit violence or infringe public order. Rabble-rousers trying to whip up the mob have never been the beneficiaries of this latitude: there is, in other words, a difference between license and liberty. However, it is necessary to demonstrate that the words complained of are likely to stir up hatred and public disorder, not merely to complain that they are unpleasant or objectionable to some. Imams have been allowed to continue preaching in mosques when it could be argued that they have overstepped this mark, as when they have called for the death of homosexuals or Jews."

The Independent UK

Alex Salmond, the leader of the Scottish Nationalist Party, said: "All governments have been sensitive to criticism, but this Government has taken the suppression of dissent to a new level - it is nervous to the point of paranoia and frightened of being told the truth."
John McDonnell MP, chairman of the Campaign Group of Labour MPs, added there was an increasing build-up of anger in Parliament: "Freedom of speech has never been under such attack in the UK and it is shameful this is happening under a Labour government. We need a concerted campaign in Parliament and if necessary in the courts to counter this full-frontal attack on our centuries' old democratic rights."

1 comment:

S Pol Haydon said...

great post, i have started a blog on irish history and politics if your interested its, well done again