Getting Irate So That You Don't Have To

Getting Irate So That You Don't Have To

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Freedom Of Speech Is A Two-Way Street

I've been interested today to see some of the reaction to the protests at the army homecoming parade in Luton. It strikes me that there's a whiff of hypocrisy in the air.

The general feeling seems to be one of outrage. The local MP claims to be "a bit stunned" (why can't these people talk proper English ?) "that the police agreed to this kind of demonstration, with pre-prepared banners calling the Army ’baby-killers’ and the like". John Hutton (Defence Secretary) weighed in with "I can only condemn the tiny minority who used this opportunity to make, whatever their personal views, utterly ridiculous and insulting comments". Even Liam Fox (Hutton's shadow) described it as "offensive, appalling and disgraceful". Tim Montgomerie says the Police should not have allowed it to happen. Meanwhile The Sun (bless 'em) wants you to give them a call if you know any of the demonstrators. Nice.

Hang on a minute. We're told that the Army fights for freedom. We're told that they stand for British values of justice, and that we should be proud of them. They have, apparently, helped to bring democracy to Iraq, and kicked out a tyrant, an opponent of freedom.

Well look, people; freedom cuts both ways. Fine, have the army homecoming and let people who think they're heroes proclaim them as such. But if the army puts themselves in the shop window like that they can hardly complain (and nor can the politicians who seek to capitalise on the public support and sympathy they evoke) if approval is not universal. That's what freedom is about.

You might well ask about the rights of other groups, routinely suppressed, to hold counter-demonstrations when Muslims march or when the Anti-Nazi League are on parade. And in doing so you'd doubtless pose some valid questions. We all know that some groups are given far greater right of protest than others. But that's not the point at issue here. Should yesterday's counter-demonstration have been banned ? No.

"Offensive, appalling and disgraceful" ? Perhaps - to some. But no more so than the army parade was to others. Please, let's not fall into the trap of saying something should be banned just because we might find it offensive.


TBR said...

It's always the way though. The political elite believe in their kind of freedom only.

Personally I'm not too big on the parades. Not sure what we're meant to be celebrating.

Quiet_Man said...

No the counter demonstration should not have been banned, though it's a good job that the police were there to block the counter, counter demonstration otherwise the headlines would read along the lines of mob justice. I'm all for freedom of speech, but I'm also a great believer in a higher freedom and that is the freedom to take the consequences of your actions. I think the counter demonstrators yesterday touched off on the repressed anger that is currently just below the surface of England, next time it might not be quite so civilised in that the police may just not be able to stop it before it gets out of hand.

Sue said...

It was allowed to go ahead on the premise that it was an anti war demonstration. It turned out not to be that.

The demonstrators were intent on causing trouble by the things they said. To rejoice in British soldiers deaths is not a peaceful anti war message, it's meant to incite hatred and inflame tempers.

They got exactly what they set out to achieve.

it's either banned or compulsory said...

My objections were not with the Moslems or their silly placards, it was that the mainstream press chose to ignore the spontaeneous reaction of the indigenous population, bar mention of " a couple of arrests for shouting racist slogans ".
The anti-protests were not from skinheads, the NF/BNP or assorted knuckle draggers; they were decent ordinary folk of Luton, a town abandonded to multi-culturalism twenty years ago when they accepted the re-naming their branch of Mecca Bingo in a useless attempt at cultural appeasement.

Quiet_Man said "I think the counter demonstrators yesterday touched off on the repressed anger that is currently just below the surface of England... and I agree with him but that is probably just what the Islamists intended.