Friday, 5 June 2015

I've had an excellence response to my earlier post today, from John Mclaughlin. I am reprinting it here, because it outlines some of the problems with my insistence on freedom of speech.

Also, it begins by agreeing with me. 
Firstly, I agree with you in regards to freedom of speech, I think that sensible thinking is required (I am quite aware to the shade of contradiction in my opinion). 

I believe a large portion of people today would agree that there are some 'schools of thought' that offer little or no value towards any intelligent discussion in today's society and that the inclusion of such issues, realistically should not be entertained.

Bella Caledonia suggested something like this in 2014, while pondering how a 12 year old ended up getting glassed at a parade.

I offer Katie Hopkins' outrageous comments regarding asylum seekers as one such example: as much as I am disgusted by what she said, not to mention her lack of humanity she has within, I do believe she should be allowed to voice her opinions. Conversely, however, I don't think it's appropriate she should be given a national newspaper platform to spout such uninformed racist nonsense. 

Yep, I am not keen on Katie Hopkins getting a platform to spout hate-filled nonsense (even if she is clearly doing it out of a neurotic need for attention). The issue, as John makes explicit, is not whether an individual is allowed to talk shit: it is whether they ought to have a platform for it, and get paid for being the Obnoxious Idiot in the Corner of the Pub. I would never argue, as an example, that him off Top Gear was being denied freedom of speech because the BBC won't put him on the telly anymore. 

I see your right to freedom of speech as neither the right to be heard, nor a 'blanket' to justify sectarian hatred, bigoted taunting and incitement or any other form of baseless hatred or discrimination.

I would agree. 

Should we overlook the countless examples of intimidation with an irrefutable link to violence? [I believe a 12 year old girl was bottled in the face in Glasgow at last years July marching season]. 

We're all aware that old firm games were rigidly controlled through heavy policing, early kick off times, liquor laws and anti sectarian legislation amongst other things, for good reason, and rightly lessons were learned... 

I struggle to imagine who can think that a seven hour festival in the centre of the country's busiest city on a Saturday is a sensible idea??? I will concede I am not totally up to speed with the involvement of SLAB and GCC so I won't speculate further here.

I'd agree that it is not necessarily a good idea... but I am not too fussed that it might disrupt people's shopping. I am an anti-capitalist on Tuesdays to Friday, and if shops lose sales, I don't see that as being a good reason to stop something.

Glassing kids in the face is a much better reason.

Lets now, assume that my opinion is 100% incorrect. As the above is simply my opinion, I may stand alone and may very well be 100% wrong... We've considered the rights of the Orangemen... Now, what about the rights of ordinary people? The rights of families to live their lives free from such disgusting behaviour, to live free of discrimination, fear and intimidation?

If we champion 'true' freedom of speech, surely, the need to apply to government for permission to hold such events sits in opposition to such a value? I recall a documentary I saw on YouTube, 'Taking Liberties' that claimed in 2003(? I think), that when heading for an American military base, 3 coach loads of peaceful protesters, opposing to the invasion of Iraq were stopped, searched and harassed by police and denied their right, eventually being turned around and escorted away. 

Where were the calls to protect freedom of speech then? While detractors may insist that these are isolated and hypothetical examples, they still merit consideration and highlight the complexity of such a discussion, which should not be clouded further by any level of consideration of redundant and outdated thinking... 

I think the film itself is an expression of 'freedom of speech', and it calls up the worry I have: any extension of the state's right to decide who gets to have parades and opinions is going to be used against those people who have opinions that bother the state. 

If it is indeed an outreach and education project and is conducted as such with appropriate behaviour, I will welcome it and gladly eat my words, but I won't hold my breath!

The question might be: are we willing to take the risk of letting it happen in the hope of this positive outcome?

But thank you, John. I appreciate the intelligence of your argument and the holes it pokes in my assumptions. 

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