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MPs and Rabbis join forces to ban free speech

It is fascinating to see Members of Parliament and Rabbis joining forces to ban free speech. Indeed it is even more fascinating to see Rabbis and Imams (and indeed the Pope) all steadily uniting to undermine one of the primary pillars upon which modern liberal western civilisation rests, which is to say freedom of expression. And of course I mean liberal not in the nonsensical debased American sense of the word (by which they mean something that is illiberal).

23 comments to MPs and Rabbis join forces to ban free speech

  • pete

    Much of the ant-Semitism we hear nowadays comes from those who believe themselves to be liberal, progressive and scrupulously politically correct.

    Will they be banned from the internet too?

  • Paul Marks

    Yes Perry.

    In my life I have observed Freedom of Speech go from a central principle of the Western World, to a thing that only American conservatives (and libertarian – but there are not many libertarians) believe in.

    American “liberals” certainly do not believe in it (observe the universities), and “conservatives” outside the United States certainly do not believe in it.

    Indeed in Britain and Australia and so on – local conservatives fall over themselves rushing to agree that “racist speech” (and lots of other forms of speech also)should be illegal.

    Like the right to keep and bear arms – Freedom of Speech seems destined to end up as something that “people in Texas” believe in, but no one much else.

    For the record…

    If anyone wants to say that my father’s cousins were not gassed by the German National Socialists – I believe they should be free to do so.

    And if anyone wants to say that I should be gassed. I also believe they should be free to say this – although if they try and transform hot air into concrete actions, I reserve the right to kill them (if I feel like it).

    However, I am totally alien – I might as well be from Mars.

    I have no place in the modern political culture of this country.

  • Richard Quigley

    To Paul Marks: You are not alone.

    WE are totally alien – WE might as well be from Mars.

    WE have no place in the modern political culture of this (Canada in my case, or perhaps any) country.

    Sad, is it not?

  • Mr Ed

    Let’s chuck in (as it were) a Church of England vicar, whose personal blog has gone from public to private today. This is unfortunate, as he was fundraising to pay a legal bill for the monies spent defending himself from a previous incident.

    This vicar has somehow acquired his own page on Wikipedia. Who would have thought that he would have started work in a benefits office?

    This good Christian gentleman appears to have been blogging about theories around Israel being behind 9/11.

    And a fringe Parliamentary candidate in Staffordshire has been arrested for publishing a leaflet. One should presume innocence.

  • Mr Ed

    This is a call for a form of criminal injunction to allow the courts to order offenders to not use social media. To an extent, it is a variation on the themes of sentencing powers. No one is quite clear as to whether they want this to be imposed without a conviction for an offence established in law, a fundamental principle of the rule of law, but I note that there is not even a ‘nod’ to the issue of freedom of speech or the rule of law, just some vague hint of unease.

    It is remarkable that nothing is said about who these Anti-Semites might be, or why ‘anti-Semitism’ is apparently increasing.

    There are already laws on incitement in England and Wales, and laws on ‘malicious communications’ and incident to hatred on ethnic and religious grounds. It seems that those seeking to ban things are never satisfied, they always want more. I always have the nagging suspicion that ultimately they want to criminalise calls for tax or government spending cuts as a form of ‘hate speech’, as ‘the cuts’ would hurt ‘the disabled, minorities and wimmen’ in their minds.

  • Laird

    It is quite clear, and to anyone really paying attention it was clear from the start, that last month’s brouhaha over the Charlie Hebdo massacre had nothing to do with “free speech” and everything to do with precisely who gets to infringe upon it (and, to a lesser extent, just how much force is appropriate to employ in the process). The state doesn’t like competition, that’s all. Free speech is as extinct (and relevant) as the dodo.

  • Runcie Balspune

    The pope’s comments sent my irony meter off the scale, after all, was he not aware of that famous person who got crucified (literally) for criticising a religion?

  • Johnnydub

    Runcie Balspune – not just that. The Pope said that Jesus was wrong to say what he did during the Sermon on the Mount. As a Catholic it gives me no pleasure to say the current Pope is a cunt.

  • Laird

    Johnnydub, as a non-Catholic (an atheist, actually) it also give me no pleasure to say that the current Pope is a cunt. But there it is. He is the worst and most grossly ignorant Pope in modern memory.

  • Mr Ed

    Meanwhile police in Wiltshire want to know who bought Charlie Hebdo, a ‘mistake’ apparently.

    Surely this calls for a Bill of Attainder.

  • Josh B

    What a bunch of putzes!

  • Laird

    Hardly sufficient, Mr. Ed. This calls for Corruption of the Blood!

  • Nicholas (Natural Genius) Gray

    I would have thought that Jesus’s mistake was to say that Peter would be the head of the Church! Oh, well, live and learn, and then die and burn, I suppose.

  • Guy Herbert

    And in India, it’s the Hindu nationalists. Eg.
    Penguin withdraws Hindu book after complaints

    Religious authorities everywhere, to the joy of officials and policemen everywhere, really do hate our freedom.

  • Mr Ed

    Laird, I was only thinking of the latter usage of attainder, forfeiture of office and return of all salary earned in post, I am kind at heart. As for the Pope, from his pronouncements, here’s an excerpt, I added emphasis:

    No to an economy of exclusion
    53. Just as the commandment “Thou shalt not kill” sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say “thou shalt not” to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills.
    How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points? This is a case of exclusion. Can we continue to stand by when food is thrown away while people are starving? This is a case of inequality. Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape.

    Human beings are themselves considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded. We have created a “throw away” culture which is now spreading. It is no longer simply about exploitation and oppression, but something new. Exclusion ultimately has to do with what it means to be a part of the society in which we live; those excluded are no longer society’s underside or its fringes or its disenfranchised – they are no longer even a part of it. The excluded are not the “exploited” but the outcast, the “leftovers”.

    54. In this context, some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting. To sustain a lifestyle which excludes others, or to sustain enthusiasm for that selfish ideal, a globalization of indifference has developed. Almost without being aware of it, we end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people’s pain, and feeling a need to help them, as though all this were someone else’s responsibility and not our own. The culture of prosperity deadens us; we are thrilled if the market offers us something new to purchase. In the meantime all those lives stunted for lack of opportunity seem a mere spectacle; they fail to move us.

    No to the new idolatry of money

    55. One cause of this situation is found in our relationship with money, since we calmly accept its dominion over ourselves and our societies. The current financial crisis can make us overlook the fact that it originated in a profound human crisis: the denial of the primacy of the human person! We have created new idols. The worship of the ancient golden calf (cf. Ex 32:1-35) has returned in a new and ruthless guise in the idolatry of money and the dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose. The worldwide crisis affecting finance and the economy lays bare their imbalances and, above all, their lack of real concern for human beings; man is reduced to one of his needs alone: consumption.

    56. While the earnings of a minority are growing exponentially, so too is the gap separating the majority from the prosperity enjoyed by those happy few. This imbalance is the result of ideologies which defend the absolute autonomy of the marketplace and financial speculation. Consequently, they reject the right of states, charged with vigilance for the common good, to exercise any form of control. A new tyranny is thus born, invisible and often virtual, which unilaterally and relentlessly imposes its own laws and rules. Debt and the accumulation of interest also make it difficult for countries to realize the potential of their own economies and keep citizens from enjoying their real purchasing power. To all this we can add widespread corruption and self-serving tax evasion, which have taken on worldwide dimensions. The thirst for power and possessions knows no limits. In this system, which tends to devour everything which stands in the way of increased profits, whatever is fragile, like the environment, is defenseless before the interests of a deified market, which become the only rule.

    No to a financial system which rules rather than serves

    57. Behind this attitude lurks a rejection of ethics and a rejection of God. Ethics has come to be viewed with a certain scornful derision. It is seen as counterproductive, too human, because it makes money and power relative. It is felt to be a threat, since it condemns the manipulation and debasement of the person. In effect, ethics leads to a God who calls for a committed response which is outside the categories of the marketplace. When these latter are absolutized, God can only be seen as uncontrollable, unmanageable, even dangerous, since he calls human beings to their full realization and to freedom from all forms of enslavement. Ethics – a non-ideological ethics – would make it possible to bring about balance and a more humane social order. With this in mind, I encourage financial experts and political leaders to ponder the words of one of the sages of antiquity: “Not to share one’s wealth with the poor is to steal from them and to take away their livelihood. It is not our own goods which we hold, but theirs”.[55]

    58. A financial reform open to such ethical considerations would require a vigorous change of approach on the part of political leaders. I urge them to face this challenge with determination and an eye to the future, while not ignoring, of course, the specifics of each case. Money must serve, not rule! The Pope loves everyone, rich and poor alike, but he is obliged in the name of Christ to remind all that the rich must help, respect and promote the poor. I exhort you to generous solidarity and to the return of economics and finance to an ethical approach which favours human beings.

    No to the inequality which spawns violence

    59. Today in many places we hear a call for greater security. But until exclusion and inequality in society and between peoples are reversed, it will be impossible to eliminate violence. The poor and the poorer peoples are accused of violence, yet without equal opportunities the different forms of aggression and conflict will find a fertile terrain for growth and eventually explode. When a society – whether local, national or global – is willing to leave a part of itself on the fringes, no political programmes or resources spent on law enforcement or surveillance systems can indefinitely guarantee tranquility. This is not the case simply because inequality provokes a violent reaction from those excluded from the system, but because the socioeconomic system is unjust at its root. Just as goodness tends to spread, the toleration of evil, which is injustice, tends to expand its baneful influence and quietly to undermine any political and social system, no matter how solid it may appear. If every action has its consequences, an evil embedded in the structures of a society has a constant potential for disintegration and death. It is evil crystallized in unjust social structures, which cannot be the basis of hope for a better future. We are far from the so-called “end of history”, since the conditions for a sustainable and peaceful development have not yet been adequately articulated and realized.

    60. Today’s economic mechanisms promote inordinate consumption, yet it is evident that unbridled consumerism combined with inequality proves doubly damaging to the social fabric. Inequality eventually engenders a violence which recourse to arms cannot and never will be able to resolve. It serves only to offer false hopes to those clamouring for heightened security, even though nowadays we know that weapons and violence, rather than providing solutions, create new and more serious conflicts. Some simply content themselves with blaming the poor and the poorer countries themselves for their troubles; indulging in unwarranted generalizations, they claim that the solution is an “education” that would tranquilize them, making them tame and harmless. All this becomes even more exasperating for the marginalized in the light of the widespread and deeply rooted corruption found in many countries – in their governments, businesses and institutions – whatever the political ideology of their leaders.

    Some cultural challenges

    61. We also evangelize when we attempt to confront the various challenges which can arise.[56] On occasion these may take the form of veritable attacks on religious freedom or new persecutions directed against Christians; in some countries these have reached alarming levels of hatred and violence. In many places, the problem is more that of widespread indifference and relativism, linked to disillusionment and the crisis of ideologies which has come about as a reaction to any-thing which might appear totalitarian.”

  • Never has there been a better time to become an ex-Catholic.

  • Mr Ed

    I’ll just have to content myself with buying a Rangers scarf or something, it’s not worth converting just to abandon them on principle.

  • Classicist


    His economics look dodgy, but the Pope is coming in for rather rougher treatment than he deserves over free speech. If one reads the transcript, it’s fairly clear that when he said “there’s a limit” to free speech, he meant a moral limit. That is, saying some things can be nasty, so let’s all be nice to each other, or some will get upset. It’s a bit mean to interpret his off the cuff remarks as calling for an end to the right in law to free speech.

  • Laird

    Sorry, Classicist, but “dodgy” doesn’t begin to adequately describe his economics. Anyone who spent his entire life in Argentina, who experienced first-hand the utter failures of its succession of left-wing governments (including the absolute disaster that is Kirchner) but who nonetheless remains a socialist, is a fundamentally stupid person.

    But I’m sure he very much appreciates your generous interpretation of those “off the cuff” remarks. So he’s basically the Joe Biden of the Catholic Church? Yes, that’s certainly comforting.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Nothing new under the sun, i suppose:

    Independently of the Canadian story: If MPs were really worried about increased antisemitism, the first thing they’d do is abolishing the BBC. No need for special legislation — though they would need it to close down The Guardian.

  • PersonFromPorlock

    When you already know the Truth, free speech serves no purpose.

    (Sarcasm, but it’s really how Believers think.)

  • it’s fairly clear that when he said “there’s a limit” to free speech, he meant a moral limit.

    And as with everything else, he would be wrong. Tolerating the expressed errors of others, not to mention stupidities and falsehoods, is profoundly moral. Indeed it is the application of moral judgement over emotional response. Of course tolerance does not imply a lack of harsh critique towards whatever it is that is being tolerated however.

    The parable this dismal excuse for a Pope actually gave once is that if you insult someone’s mother, you must expect to get punched (this was a defence of people’s reaction to blasphemy). Well yes, you might expect it but that does not make that punch a moral response or in anyway a less than a matter for criminal law.

  • Paul Marks

    Jesuits do not tend to speak (or write) clearly – hence the word “Jesuitical” – meaning complex (indeed twisted) speaking or writing, which confuses more than it enlightens (sometimes deliberately so).

    Electing a Jesuit as Pope was not a wonderful idea.

    About as intelligent as electing as Pope (i.e. someone who is expected to speak out on the general problems of the world) someone who got his education on politics and economics in Argentina.

    Basically the Pope needs to say to himself “everything I have been taught about politics and economics is radically wrong – I need to reject my beliefs and examine everything fresh”.

    A bit tough to do if one is 78.

    However, “Human Action” by Ludwig Von Mises has been translated into Spanish – so someone could send him a copy.