We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

We don’t have to show the slightest respect for other people’s views – just for their right to hold them. Respect, after all, must be earned. It’s only freedom of speech that’s a right. When someone says something which you find stupid or offensive, you can say something back. You can tell them to fuck off. They don’t have to, but they’ve still been told.

- David Mitchell, writing about the self-publicising Islam4UK. As Mr Mitchell says, we should have the right to be offensive, and we should have to put up with being offended sometimes. A pity that we don’t.

Freedom of speech has ceased to be a right in Britain. In practice you are no longer permitted to be offensive, if you are within the grasp of the authorities. You may be threatened or arrested, have property seized, or forced to defend a criminal trial. Sell or wear a mildly rude T-shirt, and you may find public order legislation stretched to make an example of you. Write down “inappropriate” fantasies in a blog, or a poem, and prepare to defend a serious criminal charge. Quarrel with someone, a planning department, say, and if they can even suggest you hinted at forbidden speech, they can use the police to intimidate you.

19 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Stonyground

    I was naive enough to think that the free-speech battle had been won more than a hundred years ago. I am sure that there are some classic quotes by Tom Paine and J. S. Mill that, having mentioned them, I will now have to dig up.

  • the other rob

    I have had the misfortune to have spent much of the last few days poring through resolutions of the UN Human Rights Committee and the like.

    The number of times I encountered text to the effect of “prohibition of saying nasty things about whatever bunch of folks bought the committee a nice lunch this week is not an abridgement of the fundamental right to freedom of expression” is quite depressing.

  • Verity

    Well you’re not going to get freedom of speech back under politically correct (read thought fascist) David Cameron.

    If he promised to rescind every law passed by the vile, toxic Blair and the vile, toxic Brown and their slithy cohorts in one Grand Repeal Act, I would consider voting for him although I don’t like him. But he won’t. So I won’t.

  • Hard to say what the remedy is, when almost all of your pollies are saying the same stupid things.

    My pollies are doing exactly that also, and every single one of them is just as bad. At least you have some hope in the UKIP (maybe). I have absolutely none at all.

    Hence, I will vote for the one who can give me the most pork. What else can I do? Certainly none of them will deliver true freedom of speech and religion.

  • Linda Morgan

    Gregory: “Hence, I will vote for the one who can give me the most pork. What else can I do? Certainly none of them will deliver true freedom of speech and religion.”

    A bigger part of the problem even than the will to vote oneself one’s neighbors’ goods — no matter the strings and chains attached — is the sad notion that we lack the most basic freedoms because politicians fail to deliver them to us.

  • “What else can I do?”

    Only you can answer that – you are the one who selects your values and acts to get/keep them.

    Speaking for myself I don’t vote for people who’d trample all over your values whenever it was convenient for them. I would hope “libertarians” wouldn’t do that to me either.

  • Funny how only when it’s something that might affect them to left-wing twat comedians like Mitchell start to defend the concept of individual rights.

  • Well Linda, I would suggest to you that you take a real good look at the world around you.

    I am no fighter, to take up arms that in any case are illegal and cannot be found for love or money in my country, and to fight for my rights by my lonesome.

    I am no charismatic speaker, to be able to convince my fellow pork-loving countrymen that we are marching to our own destruction, when they don’t know and don’t care.

    I am no inspirational teacher, that I may influence the future generations to throw off their shackles (and what shackles? 60% of them are Muslim and are in any case perfectly happy with the way things are right now).

    I am no coward, to run away from my homeland and place myself at the feet of another country, especially when I see the other countries also inexorably slide into doom.

    So tell me, O Linda and Mike, what would you do in my shoes? I contend that the most perfectly rational decision is to ensure that I gain the most personal benefit out of the system while working from within to change whatever little I can influence. And precious little that is.

    And not to vote is worse, as then I should have absolutely no say whatsoever in the political process of my country. Whereas if I do vote, I may yet have some small influence upon my MP.

    So, tell me, in a political system where most of the people do indeed agree that the government is the source of freedoms granted and withheld, what is to be done?

    I am one of the 10% who actually pays taxes in my country, so why should I not vote some of that money back into my district? Especially when my district is a money-generating tourist trap.

  • Paul Marks

    Supporting freedom of speech puts a person outside the mainstream of acceptable politics in the United Kingdom. It must be understood that support of freedom of speech is only real if it is support for the right to say things one OPPOSES (for example that all black people are evil, or that they should be removed from Britain).

    Sadly it is not just David Cameron. By the increasing control of who gets to stand as a Conservative candidate (for Americans think New York 23 and how the party bosses forced in a leftist candidate against the wishes of ordinary Republicans), the number of Conservative MPs who support freedom of speech (and so on) will be reduced over time.

    Mr Cameron is following the same policy (although with different tactics) as Edward Heath (a demented ex leader of the British Conservative party – who not only introduced wage and price controls, but pushed Britain into the E.E.C. – now the “European Union”, and was even an open admirer of Mao the worst mass murderer in human history responsible for at least 70 MILLION deaths).

    Edward Heath tried to eliminate dissent by removing real Conservatives from the “Candidates List” and David Cameron is using similar tricks (although this is NOT to say that Mr Cameron would support Mao – Cameron is a mainstream European style Social Democrat or leftist Christian Democrat, NOT a raving lunatic like Edward Heath).

    The difference in internal party affairs is that Edward Heath faced brave and determined resistance from many members of the Conservative party – whereas people have just fallen over for Mr Cameron (even after he broke his word of honour, by tearing up his “iron” pledge to allow the British people a direct vote on the E.U. Constitution – the so called “Lisbon Treaty”).

    Mr Cameron’s vision is plain. An “Economist” magazine vision of “democracy”, where the people have no real say in anything. And face a “choice” between “Politically Correct” candidates of various parties, all of whom believe much the same thing (according to David Cameron there is no real difference between his politics and those of the Liberal Democrats and, for once, he is telling the truth), with all real policy being made by administrators and “enlightened experts” anyway. The politics of the “Guardian letters page”.

    13 years of opposition appear to have rotted our souls, it seems we will put with anything (even David Cameron) for a chance to get back into office (and it is “office” not “power” – real power is at the E.U. level now).

    It is unfortunate. Very unfortunate.

  • John B

    There was a time, not so long ago I believe, when one was supposed to be able to say anything one wanted to on a soap box at Hyde Park Corner, except insult the monarch.
    How was that freedom undone? They did a very good job.

    The government is only the provider of one’s freedoms insofar as they are the ones who chained one up in the first place, of course. And they have to have substantial backing from “public opinion” (read MSM). One can get onto local journalists and editors and politely point out untrue media coverage by presenting facts.

  • by tearing up his “iron” pledge to allow the British people a direct vote on the E.U. Constitution – the so called “Lisbon Treaty”

    And for that reason alone (there others but that suffices) iDave is a Slithey Tove and deserves to be called on it.

    And that’s why I vote UKIP. It’s not even a decision anymore. Until Chris Mounsey can get his LPUKers on the map then it’s UKIP. There is no alternative but to vote for more of the same.

    Cameron is re-arranging deckchairs on the Titanic. He might do that most excellently but so what? He might as well right a review of the show whilst the theatre burns down around him. It could be inciteful, witty…

    It would definitely be charred.

    I’m not a Tory so I can’t feel personally betrayed by them but by not giving the voters a significant choice they have betrayed us all.

    This politics of “consensus” (I didn’t consent) is being asked if you want your left or right leg amputated without the option of remaining bipedal and claiming that is offerring “choice”.

  • “So tell me, O Linda and Mike, what would you do in my shoes?”

    No, because I wouldn’t allow myself to be in your shoes in the first place.

    “I am no fighter… I am no charismatic speaker… I am no inspirational teacher… I am no coward…”

    Well maybe it’s about time you do something about that, eh?

  • Linda Morgan

    Gregory, re your asking what I’d do in your shoes: I wasn’t trying to abuse, criticize or accuse you personally of any failure to do the right thing or wanton willingness to do the wrong thing.

    Your comments caught my eye because they express the hopelessness, frustration, confusion and resignation of so many who try in vain to recoup, through appeal to government, some of what government takes from them everyday, be it the money they earn or the inherent freedom to act that they‘ve mostly forgotten if they ever perceived and understood to begin with.

    So, tell me, in a political system where most of the people do indeed agree that the government is the source of freedoms granted and withheld, what is to be done?

    I don’t know what is to be done, but I do know that misapprehensions and delusions are not reality, no matter how many people share them.

  • No, because I wouldn’t allow myself to be in your shoes in the first place.

    mike: Well then, I guess you are to be commended for having the prenatal ability to choose your parentage and origin of nationality. Indeed, the power to alter history to ensure the political system under which you exist is one to which you are amenable – such powers are truly unique. Alas, for myself, I am no superhuman and do not claim such powers.

    Linda: Ah, do you say so, then. Consider; in the Sultanate of Brunei, the Sultan is absolute monarch. If he does not like your haircut, he can have your head chopped off. And the people all accept it. Does that mean he is NOT the source of freedoms granted and withheld?

    Perhaps you say instead that no, the power still rests with the People, it’s just that they have not exercised that authority which is naturally theirs. Well, if the People have abdicated their powers to the Sultan (or to the Government), then those powers are indeed the Government’s, are they not?

    Or consider Red China. The Commieland government takes the position that all the land is theirs, and if they wish to bulldoze your house to build highways, well, get out of their way or get bulldozed and become part of the foundation of the new highway. And the people there are proud of it! They are proud that human intransigence cannot get in the way of massive infrastructural achievements! Is it then and therefore reality that the people own the land they bought in China?

  • Linda Morgan

    the Sultan is absolute monarch. If he does not like your haircut, he can have your head chopped off. And the people all accept it. Does that mean he is NOT the source of freedoms granted and withheld?

    This Sultan is a murderous tyrant and both he and the people who actually approve his actions (rather than simply fear his power) are too debased to recognize basic human rights, must less properly respect them. While as his victim one might struggle and make whatever appeals necessary to escape — gain one’s freedom from — his clutches and abuse, it would be insane to look to him as even a potential source of one’s natural right to liberty — or even one’s right to fight for liberty.

    Well, if the People have abdicated their powers to the Sultan (or to the Government), then those powers are indeed the Government’s, are they not?

    I suppose that individuals who so chose could expressly transfer all responsibility for themselves to the Sultan (or Government), willingly making themselves his (its) slaves. They wouldn’t have the authority in that or any case, however, to include their unwilling brethren in the bargain.

    Or consider Red China. …if they wish to bulldoze your house to build highways, well, get out of their way or get bulldozed…

    Whoa.

    Is it then and therefore reality that the people own the land they bought in China?

    Apparently no more so than we property tax payers in the US really own the land we’ve bought here.

  • MarkE

    Gregory

    I too “am no fighter… I am no charismatic speaker… I am no inspirational teacher… “

    At the next general election I will be offering my services to a party (UKIP) that I think might make a difference. Whether that involves stuffing envelopes, manning telephones or walking the streets canvassing I don’t yet know. In the meantime I contribute to various blogs (here, where I’m preaching to some extent to the choir, at the Telegraph where I might change a couple of minds, Biased BBC, even the BBC HYS when they publish me) explaining that Cameron is no more conservative than Brown and anyone wanting conservative policies needs to look at UKIP. I won’t pretend UKIP are perfect, but they are the least imperfect choice we will have this year. Abstention won’t work because it is too easily written off as apathy.

    My contributions make very little difference, but if you do the same, together we’ll make twice the difference.

  • MarkE: Well spoken, sir! I applaud your efforts, and admire your energy.

    Alas, that presupposes that there is a party which might possibly maybe make a difference. There are none in my country. None. All of the pollies drink from the same trough, and no sooner than the Opposition is elected than they act exactly like the previous ruling party.

    The only thing we can do is to kick the buggers out every election, so that they at least pretend to pay lip service to the idea of freedoms.

    As it is, the tally of bombed churches stands at 9.

  • Matt

    When I realized ten years ago that the UK was an enemy of civil rights, rather than a supporter of them, I took the only actions I could take. I resigned my memberships in London based professional organizations and stopped my regular professional and leisure visits to London. I know it didn’t help anything, but it made me feel better that I wasn’t supporting the regime. Now, if I could only do something about the US

  • Nuke Gray

    It was an obscure writer called Robert Heinlein who said it best- everyone has an equal write to an opinion, but not all opinions are equal! I think it is in the novel “Starship Troopers”, though not the movie.