The right to free speech is no longer valued by the left. They believe the term free speech is a code word for hate speech and is only advocated by people who want to say racist and bigoted things. They believe that hate speech leads to violence, either someone somewhere may interpret a speech as a call to violence or somebody offended by such speech may be provoked to commit violence, even though that was not the message of such speech.
The UK has certainly adopted this mindset has it just detained and deported another right wing activist. Joining Martin Sellner, Brittany Pettibone and Lauren Southern as being banned from the UK is Lutz Bachmann who is chairman of the German anti-immigrant group Pedia. Like Sellner Bachmann ironically was also due to address a free speech rally in Hyde Park in London. The rally went ahead anyway with anti-Islam activist Tommy Robinson reading out Sellner’s speech.
However UK government cannot deport those who are its citizens but has instead convicted many of them of hate speech, including sending them to jail. The latest is comedian Mark Meechan known as Count Dankula who was found guilty by a court of a hate crime for posting a video of himself training his girlfriend’s pug, Buddha to give a Nazi salute.
The UK government’s trashing of the value of free speech has attracted much condemnation this past week. But it has been defended by one of the UK’s major newspapers The Guardian (which of course is only allowed to exist thanks to the value of freedom of the press), with one of their columnists Nesrine Malik asking why are liberals defending free speech, or as they call it hate speech which leads to violence?
Malik first defends the UK Home Office actions in barring whom they call four extreme-right figures from the country calling them cynical exploiters of free speech. They declare that “freedom of speech is no longer a value. It has become a loophole exploited with impunity by trolls, racists and ethnic cleansing advocates”.
Their interpretation of freedom of speech is freedom from punishment by “being convicted and penalised by the state for speaking”, they claim “If just one channel of speech has been denied to you, you still have freedom of speech”. So they believe that people being banned from speaking is not punishment? What do they think happens to you if you defy the speaking ban put on you?
They also make the argument that these activists being banned from the UK is not on the scale of “pulping Lady Chatterley’s Lover here. The disappeared of Egypt, the jailed and flogged blasphemers of Saudi Arabia, the arbitrarily detained bloggers and journalists of China are being denied freedom of speech”. So we should just let mild restrictions on free speech fly because other nations are worse?
They then reject the notion that once certain speech is censored more types will be included by arguing that with free speech “there are limits, and they are broadly dictated by how much certain values are coded within society”.
They argue that allowing too much free speech will result in hearing “from child abusers or some radical Muslim clerics”. Well despite how abhorrent these types of groups are they ironically have their free speech protected, groups like NAMBLA are allowed to exist and Malik should know that the UK is full of radical clerics spouting extremism uncensored.
Malik also calls upon John Stuart Mill to defend their position as he advocated a compromise between the competing demands of authority and liberty. She quotes Mill in On Liberty saying “All that makes existence valuable to anyone depends on the enforcement of restraints upon the actions of other people”. Not sure how someone speaking threatens the existence of another person.
Malik finishes by scorning those liberals defending Bachmann, Sellner, Pettibone and Southern claiming they have “swallowed two freedom of speech myths whole: the redefinition of the term to encompass not only freedom from persecution but the right to a platform; and the delusion that freedom of speech is a neutral principle uncontaminated by history or social bias”. Despite the headline claiming the hate speech leads to violence the only evidence they offer is the motive of the Finsbury mosque revenge attacker
Throughout the article they blur the line between government censorship and private censorship. They say “it’s an insult to their (people imprisoned for their speech) ordeals that we equate them with shutting down Milo Yiannopoulos’s Twitter account”. Twitter is a private company who can deplatform anyone but Hyde Park is public space where everyone’s free speech should be respected and you should not be prosecuted or imprisoned for exercising your free speech there.
No wonder the UK government feels empowered to censor free speech when it has a mainstream media encouraging them to do just that. Meanwhile it is the ordinary UK citizen and now visitor to the country who is finding their ability to speak on their issues that concern them further eroded on a daily basis.