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Defending freedom of expression

(50 Posts)
thatbags Sun 19-Jun-16 16:57:41

Some people, not surprisingly, want to stop the group Britain First from using what they call "direct action" against Sadiq Khan, the new mayor of London. At first sight that looks like a good idea, but a few moments' thought shows that it is not. Here's why: if you ban any single group of people from expressing their views legally, then you'd have to ban it for everyone. Activist organisations that one might approve of use direct action too.

And then where would free speech and equality be?

I suppose it could depend on what kind of direct action. Obviously direct harassment or intimidation, direct physical attack, and direct vandalism should not be tolerated. But I think we have to accept that there will always be people in society with whose views we profoundly disagree but whose freedom to express those repellent views within the law must be upheld.

granjura Sun 19-Jun-16 17:02:38

Free speech or incitment to hatred? Free speech is like your personal freedom- it has to have limits.

granjura Sun 19-Jun-16 17:03:03

read this and tell me ...

thatbags Sun 19-Jun-16 17:03:21

I said within the law. Incitement to hatred is not wthin the law.

obieone Sun 19-Jun-16 17:03:28

I think I did ask you recently, would the same rule apply to Nazis and you didn't reply?

Personally I see no reason not to be able to stop certain groups and not others.
But perhaps the world has become a bit more mixed up in what is considered ok and what is not nowadays.

But of course Briatin First and anyone else whatsoever for that matter, should get away with direct harassment, physical attack and vandalism etc.

obieone Sun 19-Jun-16 17:04:37

x posts
and didn't notice, within the law.

Devorgilla Sun 19-Jun-16 17:04:46

I would support freedom of speech on the barricades if I had to. I do though believe that society has 'allowed' freedom to become licence in some areas. I was taught that I was not free to do as I pleased but only free to do as I ought. I think that attitude works well for me and stops me indulging in excess.

thatbags Sun 19-Jun-16 17:08:34

There is an article in Huffpo about it. If BF really think that islamists (I said islamists, not muslims) have a political objective and want to take control of Britain, then expressing their views against islamism is a reasonable thing to want to do. They may be wrong and their views may be bigoted but banning them from expressing their views (_legally_) is not going to help.

I do not think Sadiq Khan is an islamist.

thatbags Sun 19-Jun-16 17:09:57

That's what I was taught too, dev.

daphnedill Sun 19-Jun-16 17:14:51

The Nazis didn't break the law - they just changed it! shock

I agree with freedom of speech alongside laws to prevent hate speech, etc. Unfortunately, the laws are rarely enforced. Britain First has trespassed, vandalised, threatened and harrassed, but they've been let off with cautions (if that).

BF do more than make speeches. They invade mosques and incite racial hatred beyond warning about islamists.

thatbags Sun 19-Jun-16 17:16:56

Some people would regard Greenpeace tactics as trespassing (there was a dreadful one recently on ancient S American sacred land), vandalism and harassment.

Why are prosecutions not made, if they are not? Does anyone have info?

daphnedill Sun 19-Jun-16 18:00:12

Greenpeace have been prosecuted - or bombed - remember Rainbow Warrior?

daphnedill Sun 19-Jun-16 18:02:38

Would you defend this Twitter account's freedom of expression?

PS. It's the same one I posted on the right wing populism thread. Open with care if you're easily offended.

jevive73 Sun 19-Jun-16 18:14:27

Twitter gives a public voice to every lunatic. What struck me was pictures of thomas mair in army camouflage trousers. And what did the brave wannabe soldier do? He stabbed a defenceless woman and then when she was on the floor, he shot her. Oh, and he stabbed an unarmed 77 year old man too.

jevive73 Sun 19-Jun-16 18:15:34

So far Sadique Khan shows himself as an honourable man.

daphnedill Sun 19-Jun-16 18:18:03

Twitter also allows every nutjob group to reach people like Mair. The groups can stand up in court and say "Well, we didn't really mean it!"

We protect children from porn, but then allow vulnerable adults who might not be rationale to read stuff like that account.

jevive73 Sun 19-Jun-16 18:59:13

I agree with daphnedill. Not sure how it can be stopped though.

granjura Sun 19-Jun-16 19:07:00


I also agree that it is a very complex issue- extremes are 'easy' to decide upon- but where exactly does the limit go?

The limit is also culturally variable. Most Brits agreed that Charlie Hebdo may have gone too far- in a way that Private Eye in the UK would never have.

daphnedill Sun 19-Jun-16 19:09:19

I wish I knew the answer to that. In principle, I'm in favour of free speech, but I struggle with unregulated hate speech.

durhamjen Sun 19-Jun-16 19:15:02

Gone very quickly through the commons. Now in the Lords for scrutiny.

thatbags Sun 19-Jun-16 20:34:18

But we don't have unregulated free speech. There are laws that can be used to prosecute people to indulge in incitement to hatred or violence and people have been prosecuted under them. If they are not used enough that's a different problem from not having any regulation at all.

Also libel laws.

GJ, if you think Charlie Hebdo was islamophobic or muslim-hating, you have got hold of completely the wrong end of the stick. It was no more anti-muslim than it was anti-christian.

obieone Sun 19-Jun-16 20:44:09

It was deliberately winding certain people up.

granjura Sun 19-Jun-16 20:55:52

Bags, I grew up with Charlie Hebdo from the very beginning. Adn yes, they were just as outrageous about Christianity too, in a way that would never ben acceptable in the UK- which was my point. The limits can be culturally very different.

daphnedill Sun 19-Jun-16 21:08:31


I agree we do have laws against hate speech and libel, etc, but they are hardly ever enforced.


I felt a bit ambivalent towards the CH episode. Of course the journalists shouldn't have been murdered, but I thought the cartoons were revolting. I understand that there are cultural differences and some people obviously thought they were funny.

Surely each society should decide what it thinks is acceptable and make their own laws. On the other hand, I can almost hear people saying "What about 'Lady Chatterly's Lover'?", which was banned for years. I think it's a balancing act and Brits have always been pretty good at pragmatism, but to me the kind of muck being written about Jo Cox (and I understand other well-known people receive similar stuff) is beyond the pale. I also think that Britain First incite racial hatred and are proud of doing so. I think they should be prosecuted. There would be complaints, of course, but I think there comes a point where intolerance shouldn't be tolerated. IMHO

thatbags Sun 19-Jun-16 21:33:14

Cartoons don't have to be funny, not funny ha ha anyway. The CH ones were serious. Of course they were revolting; they were commenting on revolting ideas.

What makes a group that follows a certain rule (such as a rule that says drawn depictions of its prophet are not allowed), what gives that group the right to impose that rule on everyone else, on people who are not even members of the group?