Thursday, October 18, 2007

Freedom: even for the thoughts we hate

Before I start, I would like to make one thing very clear, I have no time, or sympathy whatsoever for racist scum like the British National Party and its supporters. Indeed, I would like to think of myself as a born free Englishman who has the right to say whatever I want, and as such, I must insist that under no circumstances should there be any restrictions on the rights of anyone to speak freely.

Unlike some left leaning political commentators in the blogsphere, who argue that they 'support free speech, but...' - my belief in the right to free speech is unconditional. That means there is no such thing as partial freedom of speech, or free speech for me, but not for them. As far as I'm concerned, free speech is not divisable - we either have it or we don't - and I say, we should have it all.

Don't get me wrong here, I'm not arguing that we should go softly, softly on the obvious nonsense espoused by racists, Holocaust deniers, or West Ham supporters. I do not adhere to the notion that we should take their pathetic views seriously. On the contrary, my defense of free speech means that we should have the right to ridicule or hammer our opponents in open debate - indeed, this is the whole point. It now appears that the greatest threat to our right to free speech comes not from the misogynists of the BNP, or Holocaust deniers like the discredited historian David Irving, the fiercest critics of free speech come instead from those on the left.

The left appear to be having a hissy-fit over the Oxford Union debating society inviting the leader of the BNP and David Irving to their 'Free Speech Forum', but the debate about free speech is not about the BNP or Irving, it's about our freedom to judge for ourselves - it's about our liberty to be able to listen to a debate and all the arguments, whether they are dumb arguments or not, we need this liberty in order to judge for ourselves - it is this freedom that the left seem to fear the most.

The worst thing about this whole affair is that the BNP and its supporters can now occupy the high moral ground and claim it is they who are the real champions of free speech. So yes, seeing Nick Griffin and Irving standing on a public platform arguing that 'no one can take their freedom away' is enough to make me puke - but those on the left standing outside the Free Speech Forum with placards demanding bans are in mine eye, even more sickening.

Outstanding photography by Sion Touhig/Getty Images

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Sunday, October 14, 2007

Al Gore: belittling the Nobel 'Peace' Prize

There was a time when the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to brave people and organisations who had put their own lives on the line in order to help the victims of conflicts, or it was the very peacemakers themselves who had won the award - but not anymore.

These days it appears that doom and gloom thinking is being awarded with no less than a Nobel award. Al Gore's powerful, precautionary and apocalyptic tale An Inconvenient Truth, has been put on par with the likes of the International Committee of the Red Cross (two times winner), Martin Luther King Jr, Amnesty International, Lech Walesa and even the Dalai Lama.

But how can it be, that a factually inaccurate, puffed-up PowerPoint display can be placed in the same league as someone who spent 27 years in prison and became the first democratically elected President of South Africa? Then again, the racist South African dictator F.W. de Klerk also received an award, so what can we make of these bizarre and grotesque choices of Nobel 'Peace' prizes?

It seems as if the Nobel Prize Committee's criteria is to hand out it's awards to people who in someway reflect the committee's very own dull and banal sentimentalism - and Al Gore is a perfect example of the Prize Committee's virtues. The Nobel Committee can no longer distinguish between those who want real peace in this world, and those who want to reduce the human carbon-footprint. That is why even an unelected, motley character like the U2 front man Bono was even rumoured to be given an award. The decision to award Gore has in fact belittled the real purpose of the prize in mine eye - in the future, I will be saving my round of applause to those who have the bravery and temerity to stick two fingers up (not in a victory sign) to the Nobel Prize Committee. Now, let's have a big round of applause for Le Duc Tho.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Teens: old enough to bear arms, but not smoke?

It's hard to imagine what it's like to be 17 years old in Gordon Brown's petty authoritarian Britain - if you're 17 you can legally have sex, get married and start a family, you can even volunteer to join the army. At 17 you have the right to bear arms and be professionally drilled and trained in lethal fighting and killing techniques. Indeed, according to Matthew Happold, the author of Child Soldiers in International Law, under-18s 'were deployed during the first Gulf War, where nearly 500 British soldiers were aged under 18, and in Kosovo'. Yet, in Brown's Britain, these teenagers will not even be allowed to purchase a simple packet of cigarettes.

Oh, come on Courtney I here you say 'how on Earth can you oppose the raising of the minimum age to purchase cigarettes'? Don't you know that smoking is bad for your health and can kill you? Yes, I'm well aware of that, being a smoker myself, and I suspect like most other smokers, we don't smoke for the benefit of our health. And in any case, there is no law on Earth that can stop teenagers from smoking - none.

Don't take my word for it, professional health bodies from the Department of Health to the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh publicly admit that 'there is no evidence that raising the age of purchase on its own will influence tobacco sales to young people'. Indeed, even the World Bank agrees that in wealthy nations like Britain 'such restrictions have not been shown to be successful'.

This doesn't mean that I'm in favour of more teenagers smoking, of course not - but the facts are, if teenagers want to smoke, they will, and there is nothing that New Labour, or anyone in the world can do to stop them - so why the new 'crackdown'? It appears that the British government have completely run out of ideas about how we should go about building the Good Society - instead, what we have is a Supernanny state that is addicted to anti-smoking - I think it's high time we stubbed them out.

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