Many people I know and love seem very happy about the recent deplatforming of the likes of Donald Trump and some others. I’m not. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve never been a Trump fan. But there’s a much wider issue here and it really should concern us all, especially those of us on the left who aren’t supported by the big corporations and billionaires who prop up social media platforms.
This video is quite old. It’s from the Left Eye View channel’s early days but it makes the point, I think. The relevant part begins at about 7:40.
One of the biggest ironies to come out of the modern far right is their claim to support the principles of freedom of speech. Of course, these modern incarnations of Nazi and fascist bully boys have no interest in freedom of speech at all. They only want freedom for their own speech. This is a far cry from the lofty ideal attributed to Voltaire (but never actually written by him)…
“I disagree with what you have to say but I will fight to the death to defend your right to say it.”
On the contrary these snowflakes are so frightened of other peoples’ words they’re actually prepared to fight to the death to remove their right to say it. That’s not freedom of speech – that’s the key stepping stone on the way to authoritarianism, totalitarianism and dictatorship.
It’s no coincidence that in George Orwell’s fictional, fascist Britain, ‘1984’ control of the people began with control of the language and with the topics that could be discussed. That’s how fascism progresses.
If you really care about Freedom of speech, stop clamouring for the death penalty for those who disagree with you and who dare to say so out loud. Have a look at the short video linked to this post. Then you might understand why so many of us on the left are so tired of your snowflakery and your constant attempt to turn UK into a giant ‘safe-space’ where nobody disagrees with you.
Many people support the proposal to increase sentences for those convicted of defacing war memorials to a maximum of 10 years imprisonment. I’m uncomfortable with this but before you jump on me let me explain why. The argument has a few premises and needs to develop. Bear with me.
First, I believe passionately in freedom of speech and freedom of expression so long as people aren’t inciting violence or impacting upon the rights of others. Second, freedom of speech and expression depends absolutely on there being no legal right not to be offended. People desecrating memorials are offending others first and foremost and freedom of expression demands no legal right not to be offended. Offending people is not a crime.
Criminal damage is a criminal offence but why make the penalty for defacing one type of public edifice greater than others if not due to offence? I’m all in favour of criminal damage charges being brought but my support for freedom of expression means I can’t support any extension of criminal penalty because of offence. It’s not like we’re discussing someone urinating on a Chelsea pensioner here, monuments are things, however symbolic and they mean different things to different people. It’s interesting that the further our society goose-steps to the right the more we Revere militaristic symbolism. This is a pattern that the world has seen several times before. Freedom of expression means prosecuting what has actually happened rather than adding stuff on because we disagree with someone’s sentiment. Many BAME citizens can make a really strong argument against glorifying both world wars which really were white, European wars that colonised people’s were forced to die in by their European overlords. Not everyone will agree with that viewpoint but it is sincerely held by many. So prosecute the actual crime – don’t add other penalties just because your perspective differs from theirs. Most UK citizens would disagree with the blasphemy laws some very religious, even theocratic states uphold and the harsh penalties that await those who ‘offend’ the faithful.
How is this any different, except that it’s an offence taken from our perspective rather than from someone else’s?
Thankyou for unblocking me and so allowing me to comment on your FB page. I’d much prefer to engage with my MP than merely criticise from a distance. That’s why I offered you an interview for my channel during the election campaign. That’s also why I have written to your office with questions more than once since you were elected. You see, I believe passionately in freedom of expression and the democratic process and that must include constituents having access to their elected representatives.
So in the spirit of this renewed openness I’d like to make a suggestion…
I recently made a video which to date has had approaching 8,000 views criticising you for denouncing my union, the RCN for ‘politicising’ the current PPE crisis, a crisis which only yesterday Boris Johnson himself acknowledged is something we have to ‘fix’. As ever I’d prefer to give you the chance to put your own case so here’s my suggestion…
We conduct a brief (around 10 minute) skype interview which we both record, me to make a video and you to ensure I don’t misrepresent you in which we discuss your idea that the RCN complaining about the lack of PPE is wrong because they’re ‘politicising’ a crisis. I can be contacted easily enough, your office has my Email address or we can communicate on Facebook.
I look forward to hearing from you and to beginning a more reasonable dialogue moving forward.