Thursday, March 26, 2015

Free Speech in Europe

For John, BLUFFree Speech is FUNDAMENTAL.

At his Blog Journalist Brendan O’Neill talks to censorship—"The vast Empire of Censorship in Europe - and how to fight it".  It is his 25 March speech on freedom of speech at the Brussels headquarters of the Alliance Defending Freedom.  Free Speech?  I remember a video showing a Canadian Government Lawyer reminding someone accused of offensive speech that there is no "First Amendment" in Canada.  And he said like he was proud of that important fact.

But, to Mr O'Neill's speech.  It starts:

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I have to tell you that freedom of speech no longer exists in Europe.

In almost every European country in 2015, there are individuals who are in prison or doing some kind of community service or paying off a fine simply for something that they said, simply for expressing themselves.

In Scotland, birthplace of so much of the Enlightenment, a man is currently in jail for the crime of singing an offensive song.

The man is a 24-year-old fan of the largely Protestant football team Rangers. And he was recently found guilty of singing a song called “The Billy Boys”, which is an anti-Catholic song that Rangers fans have been singing for years.

Under Scotland’s Orwellian Offensive Behaviour at Football Act, he was sentenced to four months in jail for song crimes.  We’ve had thoughtcrime and speechcrime — now we have songcrime.

As a practicing Roman Catholic, and a person with Irish blood, I can tell you I have heard worse.  I am probably more offended by football (read soccer) than any singing.

Here is the windup of the speech:

We can’t only defend free speech for ourselves and ignore the censorship of others.  For that leaves the problem of censorship unchallenged and leaves us open to attack later on.

So Christians must defend those who are punished for blaspheming against Christianity.  Muslims must defend those arrested for ridiculing Islam.  Liberals must defend those imprisoned for expressing neo-fascist ideas.  Why must we do this?  In the words of Thomas Paine, one of my heroes, who was himself sentenced to death for something be wrote:

He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty, he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself.
We need to be open to insults.  We need to move to the point that 99% of the people recognize homophobic bigotry, but we value freedom enough that we don't care about the dumb ideas of the other 1%.  I am highly offended when someone calls me "White" (vice Caucasian), and I note it sometimes, but really, such people are working through their own problems and it doesn't help to badger them too much.  Let them grow.

I don't want a perfect world.  I want a free world.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Described by The [Manchester] Guardian as “A sub-Danny Dyer obnoxious intellectual wind-up merchant.”
  Hat tip to Chris Hazel and a recent Facebook post for the latest example of such bigotry.

1 comment:

Craig H said...

Very well put. Thanks for putting this piece together so well.