Freedom: even for the thoughts we hateBefore 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.
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