Thursday, April 19, 2007

First They Came For - In Defence of Free Speech

Devil's Kitchen and Tim Worstall have excellent posts about a piece of EU legislation which will curb the right of free speech. Its aim is to make holocaust denial a criminal offence, but it has far reaching implications beyond that. I have never believed that you can legislate on people's thought processes.

If someone believes the holocast didn't exist they are clearly bonkers, but does that mean they should be banned from articulating that view? Surely the best way to defeat such idiots is to expose their specious arguments? That's what you do in a free society.

It also sets a dangerous precedent. I can quite foresee people arguing in favour of banning so-called climate change denial at some point in the future. The phrase 'first they came' springs to mind. More in the FT HERE.

68 comments:

Tony said...

In February I wrote about another possible consequence from this proposed legislation, namely the politically motivated rewriting of history.

Ed said...

The right to free speech must include the right to offend, however nasty for most people a particular point-of-view may sound.

Surely the human-rights-led EU should be legislating for that not the other!

john bull, esq. said...

Sir,
That the so-called European Union should omit the Armenian Genocide is an outrage. This is almost certainly due to pressure from Turkey and the connivance of our Prime Minister. The United Nations was forced to cancel a genocide exhibition a few days ago due to similar pressures.

We, Sir, have a duty to the dead as well as the living. If we disown the victims of genocide, we devalue the deeds of our forefathers. We must stand firm on this issue.

Laurence Boyce said...

I’m afraid I simply don’t buy into all this libertarian paranoia. I very much enjoyed this quote from Jeremy Hardy last week on the radio:

There are these fake libertarian one man pressure groups claiming to champion free speech. They call their hobby the “let’s stop the kind of politically correct madness that’s sending our once great nation to hell in a handcart” campaign. And once you’ve scrolled through all the blather about freedom of expression and hard won rights, you finally come to the bit where they say the slave trade was a proud part of our heritage and black people secretly enjoyed it.

Perfectly sums up “Devil’s Kitchen” and all the rest.

Tony said...

Ah yes, Jeremy Hardy, radio's one-man pressure group for global socialist overthrow of the state and any structure he does not fancy. I wonder if he will ever say anything that bears any relation to reality...

Ed said...

What's that quote from 1984 again?

Guido Faux said...

@laurence:

Please provide a link to DK's blog where he has expressed this view. (I am genuinely curious).

Jeremy is correct - these are indeed 'fake libertarians'. so by implication you have set up a straw man.

Guido Faux said...

To quote the FT:

'the Baltic countries and Poland are still holding out for an inclusion of “Stalinist crimes”'

The irony.

Richard Carey said...

Laurence Boyce,

can you find a link where "Devil's Kitchen" praises the slave trade or says black people secretly enjoyed it? Or any other prominent libertarian blog that says something similar?

Your quote talks about "fake libertarians". What about the real libertarians, or don't you believe there is such a thing?

judith said...

Virtually all of my dad's family were wiped out in the Holocaust - crocodile tears about 'holocaust denial' will not bring them back.

For heaven's sake, just why are the EU pratting about with this kind of thing - if they have any influence on anything (other than malign within Europe itself) why don't they do something worthwhile about Darfur, or Zimbabwe?

Ralph said...

If their arguments have validity why make only holocaust denial a criminal offence?

They are suggesting letting Turkey into the EU which happily denies the Armenian, Assyrian, and Pontic Greek Genocides.

more vulgar than a vulcans vulva said...

"And once you’ve scrolled through all the blather about freedom of expression and hard won rights, you finally come to the bit where they say the slave trade was a proud part of our heritage and black people secretly enjoyed it."

Yeah, well Laurence, we know that you, Jeremy and the rest of your left-wing knob-jockeys love to try and discredit views you don't agree with by deploying libel and slander wherever you find dissent.

A particular favourite of your bunch of idiots is to accuse everyone who doesn't subscribe to your dogma as "racist", "homophobe", "nazi" or whatever other nasty little buzzwords you can come up with.

Why can't you tolerate open discussion, free-speech, free circulation of ideas no matter how offensive they may be to you?

Simple. Because you're worried that unless you control what people can say and do, you won't win.

You people make me sick.

PJ said...

Will the EU please explain how holocaust denial is any of its business, or in any way necessary for the completion of the Common Market, the only EU project on which the British people have ever really been consulted? Surely this is a classic area where member states with different traditions and histories need to go their own way?

forthurst said...

The only laws inherently defining perceived truth are the laws of nature and these are constantly being refined without anyone going to prison are being executed nowadays.

I believe that historians should have an equivalent right with their scientific colleagues to investigate and document the past without interference from legislators.

To be an effective serviceman requires courage and that should be the defining characteristic of a politician as well, because it is politicians' lack of courage which has enabled vociferous minority pressure groups to achieve major limitations of our freedom. The common law defined all the protections which were essential for public order; the rest is about interference with public discussion and debate.

Tempus Fugit said...

I thought denying climate change was already a criminal offence. Have I missed something?

wrinkled weasel said...

Well, laurence boyce, well done for not being anonymous and well done for turning up here.

But of course you are just part of the bollocks that wants to shut down not only free speech, but to subvert our language to the point where original thought becomes practically impossible.

Bryan Ferry got into trouble recently for daring to be positive about the architecture, yes, the fucking ARCHITECTURE of the Third Reich.

So, now, we must never be nice about Roman and Greek classical architecture, or Lutyens work in India or any kind of art where the country of origin did anything bad

Well you can fuck off Laurence Boyce and go and live in your nice fluffy nirvana where all ethnic minorities are saints and all white people are villains. At least you won't have to use your brain too much.

mirthios said...

Have a horrible feeling the liberals will get their knickers dangerously twisted as a result of this racist law - holocaust denial is explicit government policy in some Arab states!

john bull, esq. said...

Sirs,
In Turkey (a prospective member of the great Union) genocide denial is practised in extremis. Even animals that are a reminder of the past presence of the Armenians have been renamed. In 2005 wild sheep called 'Ovis Armeniana' became 'Ovis Orientalis Anatolicus' and roe deer known as 'Capreolus Capreolus Armenus' became 'Capreolus Cuprelus Capreolus'. Whether they answer to these new names, I have no idea.

Unity said...

It's worth noting that the assurances given on Turkey's accession and the Armenian genocide are entirely meaningless for three very basis reasons.

1. Diplomats don't decide how the law is interpreted in practice, judges do. Whether the Armenian genocide is a genocide in law is as yet undecided and won't be resolved until a judge rules on the matter.

2. There are 10 EU member states who already recognised the Armenian genocide as genocide, including France, Italy and Sweden.

3. This legislation covers not only genocide but also crimes against humanity and war crimes, so even if the Armenian genocide is not considered to be a genocide in law, it and events that took place during it would certainly meet the definition of a crime against humanity.

Iain's assessment is correct - the ramifications for this law extend far beyond simply the Holocaust and Rwandan genocide.

Laurence Boyce said...

Bloody hell, there’s a few people on this thread who don’t understand the concept of satire. In fact I can hardly think of anything more risible, than complaining that freedom of speech is under attack, via a medium, the internet, which allows anyone with a modem to instantly broadcast whatever bollocks they like to the entire world.

Machiavelli's Understudy said...

Laurence,

Would that be the same medium that is censored, surveilled and fingerprinted for 'rogue elements' who dare to express what is on their mind?

Laurence Boyce said...

Yes, I trust they’re stepping up the surveillance as we speak. Coz when you see a 767 flying towards the window, that’ll really limit your freedom of speech.

no longer anonymous said...

What is so wrong with these people that they can't leave people alone to believe what they want?

If some idiot doesn't want to believe the Holocaust happens then that's their business.

no longer anonymous said...

"There are these fake libertarian one man pressure groups claiming to champion free speech. They call their hobby the “let’s stop the kind of politically correct madness that’s sending our once great nation to hell in a handcart” campaign. And once you’ve scrolled through all the blather about freedom of expression and hard won rights, you finally come to the bit where they say the slave trade was a proud part of our heritage and black people secretly enjoyed it."

Are you seriously denying the existence of principles libertarians who believe in the defend of free speech and opposition to slavery? Check out the Libertarian Alliance or the writings of Murray Rothbard.

Prentiz said...

Laurence is right in a way - certainly there are some nasty racists who fly the false flag of libertarianism - I'm sure that the BNP will be evoking British freedom of speech in response to this.

However, its rather crass to imply that anyone who onjects to this legislation is tarred with the same brush. Once we start allowing this sort of politically-motivated exception to the right to freedom of speech it will become increasingly tempting for politicians to push the precedent. Hard cases make bad laws, and there is no harder case than defending the rights of racist nutters - but we need to look at the wider implications.

Laurence Boyce said...

To “no longer anonymous”: I didn’t write that. Jeremy Hardy wrote that. And it’s satire. What I think is that the libertarians I have come across, admittedly a small minority of the total, appear to be tilting at windmills with a ferocity that requires a little explanation. By the way, if you are so passionate about freedom of speech, try getting yourself a name. The first step is to stand up and be counted.

To “Prentiz”: Just to be clear, I’m against the legislation too. But what I think is laughable is the idea that we’re on some kind of slippery slope here. Any prosecution would lead to an immediate backlash drawing even more attention to the original remarks, so it’s just counterproductive really. In a sense, it’s the exact opposite of a slippery slope, whatever that is. A see-saw maybe?

The Tin Drummer said...

Laurence Boyce:

Given that you thought that piece of satire "perfectly sums up Devils Kitchen and the rest" can we please have the link which shows that it does? You say that the desire of libertarians for free speech needs explanation, so give it, instead of smearing them as racists.

Trumpeter Lanfried said...

laurence boyce [5.25 PM] It IS a slippery slope, for God's sake. I would argue against this legislation on the grounds that it is an indefensible interference with free speech. But others are already suggesting, by way of 'compromise' that the legislation should be drawn more widely, in other words that the list of forbidden opinions should be enlarged. What's that if not a slippery slope?

Roger Thornhill said...

mirthios said...

Have a horrible feeling the liberals will get their knickers dangerously twisted as a result of this racist law - holocaust denial is explicit government policy in some Arab states!

...and rampant in some mosques and homes to the extent that some schools are reluctant even to talk about the Holocaust. Grief! It is not as if Moslems were directly involved (much) - doubly indefensible.

p.s. how long before the term "slippery slope" is deemed racist?

Rolf Norfolk said...

I think an earlier respondent to this blog item is right in saying that the ad hominem attack is now often the first response of a contradicted liberal. Jeremy Hardy is funny (especially about animals), but he is one of a number of comedians for the sake whose political opinions the audience seems to laugh obediently, as though to reassure themselves they're with the in-crowd ("If the gang leader wears Brut, so should I"). Anyone who is a genuine liberal would barrack these bullies from their studio benches, on principle.

Can someone tell me if it's true that the EU either now has made, or is contemplating making, criticism of the EU itself a criminal offence?

Laurence Boyce said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

It's not the 'fake libertarians' that we have to worry about, it's the real nasty authoritarian and totalitarian Nu-Lab socialists in their designer togs that have created a police state. Their pals in the E.U. are simply going along with the same project.

Laurence Boyce said...

To “The Tin Drummer”: I haven’t got a complete explanation, but I’m working on it! However I feel I ought to backtrack a little here and say that, while I have been uncomfortable with some of his utterances, I have no reason to think that Devil is a racist. So I’ll just stick to saying that he’s a prize libertarian bore. It’s more the case that racists are using the libertarian flag, as Prentiz suggests. Sorry Devil.

To “Trumpeter Lanfried”: I’m sorry, I just don’t buy it. We enjoy a unprecedented levels of liberty and we’re not about to lose them any time soon. Libertarian paranoia is . . . just that. By the way, I know of no better demolition of the libertarian position than Robert Locke’s essay, “Marxism of the Right.” Well worth reading.

forthurst said...

laurence boyce lives in a world of delusion in which only bad guys agitate for free speech and use it, and only good guys agitate for the criminalisation of it, and take advantage of that.

One of the greatest lies consistently perpetrated is that the Bolshevik revolution 'went wrong' only when Stalin 'usurped' power. No, it was a coup d'etat not a revolution, and already tens of thousands had been murdered by the buch of thugs (all happened to be jewish apart from Stalin) who fought for the succession after Lenin died. Should that be made legally mandatory knowledge or should it perhaps be legally flushed down the 'Memory Hole'?

Richard Carey said...

Laurence Boyce,

well done for backing down from your initial position, and congratulations for highlighting Robert Locke's demolition of a straw man called "libertarianism", or is this another example of withering satire?

"Libertarians [] flout the drug laws but continue to collect government benefits they consider illegitimate. This is not just an accidental failing of libertarianism’s believers but an intrinsic temptation of the doctrine that sets it up to fail whenever tried, just like Marxism"

And the rest is bollocks too.
Try harder.

The Tin Drummer said...

Laurence Boyce: I'm sorely tempted to accept the apology on DK's behalf, but something tells me I ought to let him speak for himself...

john bull, esq. said...

Gentlemen,
The following is from the BBC news site this evening. This is why the Germans are so concerned about a re-awakening of fascism in Europe.

'Nazi slogans and swastikas have been daubed on about 50 graves in the Muslim section of a French WWI cemetery. The military cemetery, near Arras in the north of France, is one of the country's biggest and is on the site of some of the war's early battles.'

Laurence Boyce said...

Well I must say that following Richard’s comprehensive rebuttal of Locke’s esaay, I feel a little silly now. How could I have got it so wrong? Still, best to own up to one’s mistakes, so here goes:

I DENY THE HOLOCAUST !!!

Better say it now while we still can, eh?

Chuck Unsworth said...

Laurence Boyce: "We enjoy a unprecedented levels of liberty and we’re not about to lose them any time soon."

So, you say that 'liberty' (and I'd be interested in your definition of that!) has somehow been increased over the last, say, century?

What has all this legislation been for, then? Every year more and more laws are dreamed up and put on the statute book. Presumably they are there for some reason or other. What might that be?

And are these new laws actually increasing our liberty? If so, how exactly?

Laurence Boyce said...

There has been a massive increase in our personal freedom of speech over the last decade – it’s called the internet. A decade ago, you could make your views known to rest of us by writing a letter to one of the papers and getting some decimated version of it printed on page 37. If you were lucky that is. Now look at us – setting up five Blogs before breakfast. But widening the argument out to encompass “liberty” in general, well perhaps I should turn the question around. What is it exactly that you want to do that you are being prevented from doing? And where do you think laws come from? They are enacted by a government elected of the people. As Locke points out, sometimes we freely choose to have our freedoms restricted.

Jeremy Jacobs said...

Laurence said

"To “Prentiz”: Just to be clear, I’m against the legislation too. But what I think is laughable is the idea that we’re on some kind of slippery slope here. Any prosecution would lead to an immediate backlash drawing even more attention to the original remarks, so it’s just counterproductive really. In a sense, it’s the exact opposite of a slippery slope, whatever that is. A see-saw maybe?"

Oh so we're not on a slippery slope then. Interesting. Consider these:

1. Dumbing down of education
2. More taxation
3. The growth of "enviro-fascism"
4. PC continues
5. The continuing diminution of the nation state.


I could go on....


Wake up Laurence and smell the coffee.

Anonymous said...

laurence boyce said:

What is it exactly that you want to do that you are being prevented from doing?

I want us all to be able to peacefully go about our lives being intrusively filmed 300 tines a day.

I want 83 year olds to be able to shout 'Nonsense!' at a party conference or anywhere else without being roughed up Nazi style and held under abusive anti-terrorism legislation.

I want a government which reduces the proliferation of privacy abusing technology, such as the - soon to come our way - cameras attached to flying drones which can zoom in on and track a face from 500ft.

I want the right not to be penalised for refusing to have an ID card and not to have my personal data on a national database.

I want children to have the right not be fingerprinted.

I want my country to be transformed from this 1984, paranoid Big Brother hell hole nulab have made of us to a relatively decent place to live again.

Auntie Flo'

Anonymous said...

John Bull,

Nazis have been desecrating cemeteries with their sick and evil ideology for donkeys' years, not just in France or Germany either.

I understand that, for many years following WW1, German Nazis came to UK to honour a number of dead zeppelin crew members buried here. One such ceremony, with swastikas and Nazi salutes took place annually in the graveyard of the Essex village of Great Burstead. I've a photo of this ceremony somewhere - I'm not a Nazi, just a zeppelin collector, my family were in Little Wigborough when the L33 crashed there and everyone in the village had pieces of it :)

The Nazi ceremonies only stopped when locals got the hump about this (not until WW2!) and the graves were then moved to the German war cemetery in Staffs. The Nazi commemorative ceremonies went on for many years in England - and may even still be held now for all I know.

While I can understand the sensitivity of the Germans about Nazism, that is their problem and no reason for us to lose our freedom of speech - in particular since we know that this law would only be the beginning of much broader forms of censorship.

Auntie Flo'

Laurence Boyce said...

Hi Jeremy, good to see you on 18DS the other night. You’ve widened the argument out a bit from my remarks there which were just about freedom of speech, but taking your points in turn:

1. Not quite sure what you mean here. State education is not in a brilliant shape, hasn’t been for some time. I don’t think we’ll be able to fix it tonight, but I’m not sure where liberty comes into it. Going off tangent, I would say that the principle of liberty cannot really apply to education in any case. If it did, many children might choose not to attend school at all.

2. We’ve got higher taxes because we have a broadly left government which we elected three times in a row. If you want lower taxes, then tack to the right. But levels of taxation are not the be all and end all. I’d much rather have a higher standard of living than lower taxes just for the sake of it.

3. I can’t say I’m that bothered by “eco-fascism.” People keep saying that the debate is being stifled, but The Great Global Warming Swindle was aired to the entire nation. I understand there were some “dodgy graphs” in there, but otherwise I thought that it made some pretty strong points, especially towards the end. The debate continues.

4. Political correctness you mean? In fact what does political correctness mean exactly? If someone starts a campaign against racism, sexism, and homophobia, I could certainly imagine it becoming a little tiring after a while. But it’s all part of our discourse. Political correctness (whatever that is) is not an attack on freedom of speech. It is freedom of speech.

5. You mean Europe? Fine, so vote UKIP (which I think you do). But I’m not sure that people in general are all that fussed. There was a petition recently calling for a referendum on continued membership of the EU, but it gained less than 5,000 signatures. It’s going to need 5 million to make a good start. The funny thing is that I can see my name on the list, but I can’t see yours.

Anonymous said...

"I’d much rather have a higher standard of living than lower taxes just for the sake of it"
Yeah - tell that to the low paid who just had a tax 'cut' from the Gobblin King

no longer anonymous said...

"As Locke points out, sometimes we freely choose to have our freedoms restricted."

You're confusing democracy with liberty. Locke's argument is shockingly weak, especially his point about Russia being an example of laissez-faire capitalism. It's dealt with pretty well here:

http://catallarchy.net/blog/archives/2005/03/10/libertarians-do-it-laissez-faire/

One point the respondent doesn't bring up (and which therefore weakens his argument) is that not all libertarians have advocated treating children like adults. There is disagreement in the libertarian camp on childrens' rights. He could also have done a better demolition of Locke's point regarding Japan i.e. Japan's success was due to its high savings rate and many industries the state tried to support failed while many of its most successful ones ignored state direction. As for Russia - several decades under Soviet Communism were hardly conducive to the emergence of a genuine free market order. Libertarians have always accepted that a culture that respects enforcement of contracts and private property rights is necessary for laissez-faire to function. Such as 19th century Britain and America for example.

Trumpeter Lanfried said...

laurence boyce [10.54 PM] You say: "Political correctness (whatever that is) is not an attack on freedom of speech. It is freedom of speech."

Come, come, laurence, you know perfectly well what political correctness is; not freedom of speech, but the very opposite. A doctrine which:

1. Holds that certain things are unsayable and certain words are unusable;

2. Expects that the list of unsayable things and unusable words will be drawn up by the political left and rigorously enforced against the political right.

On your recommendation I read Robert Locke's "Marxism of the Right". It is risible. He defines libertarianism in terms which no libertarian would recognise and then pours scorn on it. I resent the time spent reading such stuff.

garypowell said...

Dont worry about the comming of an Orwellian future anymore, because its already here.

Its worked on the likes of Laurence Boyce anyway.

I quote
Political correctness is not an attack on free speech it IS free speech.

And just to show what a great job the BBC and the education system has done. He thinks that it is Gordon Browns hard work and higher taxation that is giving us a higher standard of living. Not cheap Chinese imports and the British peoples hard work coupled with the use of modern technology.

Working on LB logic we would be at our richest if taxes were over 100%.

We would also have true free speech, when the government has got around to completly working out by law what it will or will not allow us to say about anything whatsoever.

Good thing that they have not brought in a law yet banning being in possesion of a silly political social and economic ideology.

Because he would be starting a ten year sentence, before he gets to finish his cornflakes in the morning. If a government he did not like gets into power, one day.

garypowell said...

BTW
Libertarianism like conservatism is not an ideology it is a way of thinking.

They are both expressions of the eternal individual human spirit which refuses to LOVE the socialist jackboot, however many times it is told, lied, or intimidated too.

Anonymous said...

What is political correctness..?

Speaking over simplistically, it's a political and conceptual hegemony, laurence, by the most powerful groups in society (government and giant corporations) to advance and protect their interests at the expense of the majority of us in England.

The Scots are not subject to the same level of hegemonic control, largely because they are (or rather were) a crucial part of nulab's payroll vote.

Political correctness is the ideological wing of nulab and their corporate backers and a critical part of their political thrust towards high levels of power and privilege via control and dominance of the way of life of the rest of us.

PC focuses on a number of ideological concepts such as 'Social justice', 'inclusiveness', 'partnership', 'life long learning', 'choice', which, in reality, stand for the very opposite of their implied and generally accepted meanings.

For those in England, the reality of nulab's social justice is denial of justice. Here, social justice means suffering unjust and disproportionate levels of overall taxation, plus unjust funding of NHS, Higher Education, care for elderly and cancer patients, disproportionate living standards and services and unjust levels of regulation

It also means unjust and disproportionate regulation of the majority in relation to the political class. The majority must relinquish; smoking; obesity; pension expectations; reasonably priced travel; the homes we've worked to pay for all of our lives (when sick); privacy in our homes and our lives; our fingerprints; DNA, and freedom of expression - and all in the 'national interest'.

All the while government give themselves and the Scots increasing levels of privileged funding and exemption from control and intrusion in these areas

Auntie Flo'

Laurence Boyce said...

Jesus, I never even mentioned the BBC. And I’m certainly no fan of New Labour. Can’t any of you understand an argument in the abstract? Just look at some of the vituperation that has come my way today. It’s enough to make anyone wonder who’s really trying to shut down the debate here.

Richard Carey said...

Laurence,

leaving aside my rejection of foreign powers imposing laws on this country without any democratic control, one thing I'll add (just to avoid you getting the last word!) is that it should be down to these people to prove the necessity of a new law, not for us to disprove it. What does this law with all its paragraphs and clauses do (for the good) that isn't covered by the prohibition of incitement to violence?

No one's trying to shut down debate. It's just you're in a minority of one on this thread.

Laurence Boyce said...

Richard, I’m not in a minority of one because I agree with you all! I don’t want legislation restricting freedom of speech; I think it’s counterproductive; the David Irving case showed that. Neither do I want ID cards, but not because I think that Big Brother is going to follow me around controlling my thoughts. I don’t want ID cards because I know the government will cock it up and the computer system will cost billions and won’t work and so on.

But what I don’t accept is that there is any slippery slope here or any need to man the barricades. Some of the above posting has just been pure paranoia in this respect. What we are seeing is the democratic process at work. If you don’t like European interference, then there are measures you can take. Once again I don’t see your signature on a recent petition though I do see mine.

In a democracy we all help shape and influence legislation but our individual contribution is necessarily miniscule. That is how democracy works, by summing together these infinitesimal forces on the levers of power. If the legislation is bad, then it is fundamentally our fault. We can blame “dark forces” if we like but that will get us nowhere and just invite ridicule.

This is not the first time I have been shouted down vigorously by proponents of free speech, where the irony of the situation appears to be completely lost on them. And doing it over the internet just takes the biscuit. Of course there are countries where the internet is censored, so that is where the change needs to take place. But we don’t have libertarians to thank for the internet, nor even Al Gore. Just the technology.

Chuck Unsworth said...

Laurence Boyce: " A decade ago, you could make your views known to rest of us by writing a letter to one of the papers and getting some decimated version of it printed on page 37. If you were lucky that is."

That is just remarkably sloppy thinking. Let's not confuse ability to publish with freedom of speech, eh?

Frankly I don't particularly care whether my views are published on the internet or elswhere. Want I don't want is some bleeding numbskull interfering jobsworth telling me what I can say or, indeed, what terms I can use. I am utterly pissed off with complete mongs imposing their 'values' and 'beliefs' and 'faith systems' on the rest of humanity.

You introduced the word 'Liberty' into this debate. Now please do us all a favour and tell us what exactly you mean by that term. Or maybe you now wish to withdraw it?

Laurence Boyce said...

“That is just remarkably sloppy thinking. Let's not confuse ability to publish with freedom of speech, eh?”

No, let’s confuse the two! It’s absolutely vital that we confuse the two, that’s my point. You can view freedom of speech in one of two ways. Either as an inalienable right to deny the Holocaust, or as an opportunity to make a difference. Every time a libertarian makes a great stink like on this occasion, they are just wasting a “slot” in what is a finite resource of column inches and airtime. Banging on incessantly about freedom of speech is a bit like talking about sex instead of actually doing it.

I don’t think I really need to define a word like liberty. It is simply the freedom to do what ever one pleases. I enjoy perfect liberty in my life because there is absolutely nothing that I want to do that I cannot already do, subject to the universal limitations of time, money, energy, and the law. I would quite like to get some mates together, go down to Westminster, and chuck Tony Blair in the Thames. But I don’t really expect to be allowed to do that, and in fact I’m quite glad that I can’t do that.

What is it that you want to do, that you cannot do?

The Tin Drummer said...

I would quite like to get some mates together, go down to Westminster, and chuck Tony Blair in the Thames. But I don’t really expect to be allowed to do that, and in fact I’m quite glad that I can’t do that.

What is it that you want to do, that you cannot do?


Laurence, forgive if I'm wrong here, but you seem again to be trying to smear people who don't agree with you by comparing them -satrically, of course - with extremists. This was the same tactic used by the govt during the Catholic adoption farce. Read the text of the law, as DK and other racist libertarians have actually done and then come back and tell us we're only arguing for the right to be racist bastards.

And I've read all the comments on this thread but I've not read any comment that tells you that you should simply not be saying what you are saying, only plenty that vigorously disagree with you (even - gasp - using bad language). Please tell me how this is in fact trying to stop you speak. I've been shouted down on loads of leftist forums but I've always assumed it's because no-one else agrees with me, not because no-one wants me to have the right to speak. I've always assumed I retain the right to post further (unless I've been banned of course, which, erm, I haven't); which right you continue to have.

To answer your question further:

1. discussion on immigration law without falling foul of EU wide legislation;

2. discussion on various genocides, which may include lessening the figures given (as the figure for the Shoah came down from the original Soviet figures without the help or hindrance of laws), changing the motivations of people involved; redrawing conceptual maps of the process; in short, as new documents arise, changing existing interpretations of them - exactly what this law could be used to prevent, at least in part;

3. the right to write or say what I like - not directly inciting violence - without being subject not only to a prison sentence but also to subsequent deprivation of benefits, employment rights or pensions and without my views on any subject being seen as de facto an incitement to violence where there is none;

4. the right, as a citizen of the UK, to have laws made by a government elected by the citizens of the UK and not to have domestic laws relating to liberty handed down from a meeting at which the UK is 1/27th represented or whatever it is;

5. the right to be an angry right wing bastard without being labelled with various pathologies and given porridge.

This isn't a comprehensive list and, as always, I'm happy to be told that another law restricting freedom of expression is in fact _increasing_ it, and that anyone who doesn't agree is de facto a total and utter git. And probably a racist.

If that is how you, or anyone else, views me, then arrest me. I'll come quietly (well that _would_ make a change).

The Tin Drummer said...

ERK...self censorship alert...should read - "and other 'racist' libertarians"....

Laurence Boyce said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Laurence Boyce said...

Ah, Europe again. I don’t see you on the list either, but then I’m guessing “The Tin Drummer” is not your real name. It’s true that I haven’t studied the legislation, but then I’ve already said that I’m broadly against such measures. I’m also broadly against European interference (I signed the petition remember).

And we’ve also established that libertarians are not racists, rather that some racists may be flying a libertarian flag. But of course fundamentally that’s what this is all about. That’s why this legislation has been proposed in the first place, because there is a real problem with race hate websites and the like which we simply can’t ignore.

That’s why we might ultimately have to accept certain restrictions, in order to enjoy a much greater freedom, namely the internet itself. That’s why I deliberately conflate the issues. What would you rather have? The internet plus race hate laws, or turn the clock back twenty years and have no internet at all?

I never cease to marvel at my ability to publish around the world in my boxer shorts. Nor do I cease to marvel at those who cry that their freedom of expression is under attack using the self same medium. It’s just so childish. It’s like some of the posters here have read a little history, and therefore know that freedom of speech is the first casualty of a totalitarian regime, and then think that’s what’s going on here.

No it’s not. We’re in a new technological situation which has no historical precedents.

The Tin Drummer said...

Ah, Europe again. I don’t see you on the list either, but then I’m guessing “The Tin Drummer” is not your real name. It’s true that I haven’t studied the legislation, but then I’ve already said that I’m broadly against such measures. I’m also broadly against European interference (I signed the petition remember).

Er... ten out of ten. So? What's that got to do with the argument? And, in case you hadn't noticed, "Europe" is where the law is coming from, so it,er, has quite a bit to do with the subject. By the way you don't need to supply a real name to exercise a right to freedom of speech, that's just a rule that some self righteous people made up. Saying - or suggesting -that you need to give a full name to speak your mind is a bit of a worry: why do you need people to give your their details before they speak? I quite like Gawain and the Green Knight but I haven't the foggiest who wrote it. Do I care?

Incidentally, I may or may not give you my real name if you email me privately. I have been known to do so.

And we’ve also established that libertarians are not racists, rather that some racists may be flying a libertarian flag. But of course fundamentally that’s what this is all about. That’s why this legislation has been proposed in the first place, because there is a real problem with race hate websites and the like which we simply can’t ignore.

That’s why we might ultimately have to accept certain restrictions, in order to enjoy a much greater freedom


Oh? It's websites now, is it? I thought that websites were only a small part of it. If websites were the main problem, why this catch all law then? Why not just a telecommunications law? You know perfectly well that the internet is only a part of a law designed to take in _all_ kinds of expression of which the internet has barely been mentioned as a prime mover. It is a European wide law designed because of the worries of some, specific European states, to do with all kinds of speech and writing. It's a complete joke to imply. as you do, that the pressure of so many "racsits flying a libertarian flag" has brought this law about. It's been on the cards for six years, and has been a project of the political elites all that time - certainly the British people have been slow to call for a new law.

Please, then, fully explain how we will enjoy much greater freedom from this law. I'm afraid your line of argument, which seems to be that you keep saying you're not in favour of it, and then saying we might need more laws anyway, has got me truly baffled.

And nice one for throwing abuse round *again* - this time it's being "childish". Well, if being childish consists of railing against unjust laws imposed by fiat, then count me as a babbling kid spewing into my bib. And my toys! Well, they've been on the pavement for days, and are going rusty.

Laurence Boyce said...

What it’s got to do with the argument “Tin Drummer” is that I actually use the tiny levers of power at my disposal, and then accept the democratic outcome. You either buy into democracy or you don’t. Why so many on this thread who have railed against Europe did not sign the petition, is a genuine mystery to me which only they can explain. With millions rather than just thousands of signatures, we might have forced the government’s hand.

It’s not just the internet; it’s technology in general which is posing new challenges. And it’s not racists flying a flag that have brought this about; just racists, and they are a major problem. By the way, the reason you should use your real name is that being fully accountable for what you write lends your argument greater credibility. I’m just trying to help!

Chuck Unsworth said...

LB:
"Why so many on this thread who have railed against Europe did not sign the petition, is a genuine mystery to me which only they can explain."

A) You know this for a fact, of course. No doubt you'll have asked each of them individually to provide some sort of statement...

B) Why should they 'explain' their actions or inactions to you, or anyone else, for that matter?

As to "forcing the government's hand." Are you serious? Did you take a look at the outcome of the various 'petitions' on the Downing Street website and the 'government' responses to them? Let's not be silly!

"It’s not just the internet; it’s technology in general which is posing new challenges"

Oh God here we go again. What 'challenge' and to whom, exactly? 'Challenge' is one of the most overworked, misunderstood and abused terms of recent history. It has now been reduced to a meaningless burble, signfying nothing.

south englander said...

has anyone got a link to the actual text of this legislation?

Laurence Boyce said...

As to “forcing the government’s hand.” Are you serious?

Yes, I’m serious. If the numbers seriously rack up then it becomes impossible to ignore. You see my suspicion is (and here I’m indulging in some wild speculation) that some of you are just not content with the tiny slice of the democratic cake which is yours by right. I suspect that some of you don’t vote at all, never mind sign petitions. The reason? Because we “don’t live in a democracy any more.” You detest Tony Blair (so do I). But the fact that he was elected three times in a row gives some of you no pause for thought whatsoever. Of course I could be completely wrong about this . . .

‘Challenge’ is one of the most overworked, misunderstood and abused terms of recent history. It has now been reduced to a meaningless burble, signifying nothing.

A bit like “political correctness” then.

Chuck Unsworth said...

LB:

"some of you"

Who, exactly?

The Tin Drummer said...

What it’s got to do with the argument “Tin Drummer” is that I actually use the tiny levers of power at my disposal, and then accept the democratic outcome. You either buy into democracy or you don’t. Why so many on this thread who have railed against Europe did not sign the petition, is a genuine mystery to me which only they can explain. With millions rather than just thousands of signatures, we might have forced the government’s hand.

I do try to use these levers too - but I hadn't heard of that petition until last night, which was 2 months too late. I did sign a petition to save the red squirrels though. I do buy into democracy, which I worry quite a bit about laws like this. Better to be worried, paranoid and wrong, than relaxed and also wrong.

Laurence Boyce said...

“Who, exactly?”

Chuck, I said it was speculation. By the way, there’s a great article over here. Not exactly a New Labour stooge am I?

Anonymous said...

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