The Great Free Speech Debate
Much time has been given to the government decision to refuse Geert Wilder’s entry into the UK. He was invited by members of the House Of Lords to be present at a screening of his short documentary, ‘Fitna‘. The argument has three sides. One group thinks he is a nasty piece of work and just shouldn’t be allowed in. The government seems to agree with that. The second side thinks that he has something valid to say about the dangers of ‘Islamisation’ in the West and shares some of his sentiments. The UKIP party (and, presumably, the BNP) seem to be part of that camp. Finally there’s the group that don’t agree with him, but who think we must stand up for his right to say what he wants to say. I’m in that camp.
Look: Free Speech means people have the right to say whatever they like, as long as it does not incite to crime or violence, and is not perjury. That means that people will sometimes say things you don’t like, don’t agree with, or don’t want to hear. But their right to do so is also your right to do so! In my opinion, there is no other right which is as important as Free Speech. Without it, there is no way to defend any of the other rights we hold dear. We must protect our freedom diligently and despite the fact that sometimes it is painful to do so. We must even defend those who we vehemently disagree with, because if we do not, sooner or later, it will be our own right to free speech which falls foul of someone’s censorship. Or it will be our friends or loved one’s lips who are forced closed by the state.
The government should have let Geert Wilder in. He is not (presently) a convicted criminal. He was invited by the House Of Lords. You cannot defeat a debate by pretending it doesn’t exist, or by sticking your head in the sand. The battle of ideas must be won by challenge and intelligent comment. Not by narrow-minded censorship.
LabourList & Derek Draper
Unless you are an avid follower of political discussion this won’t be of any interest to you at all. But there’s this guy called Derek Draper and he’s in charge of the Labour Party’s attempt to do battle in the ‘blogosphere’ (a bunch of independent folk who talk about politics on the web.) He set up a website called LabourList (you can find a link to it on this page.) Then he proceeded to get into a catfight with leading right-wing bloggers Guido Fawkes and Iain Dale. It’s all gotten pretty childish and petty on both sides. Which is a shame because all three of these guys are interesting, passionate about their cause, and respected in their relevent quarters. I suppose you could argue that they are bouncing off one another in the standard political way. But it would be so much more useful if they were using their obvious intellects to debate actual issues. Maybe I’m being naive.
Wisbech & District Conservative Association – AGM
Wednesday 11th was the day of the Wisbech & District Branch of the Conservative Association’s AGM. It was an interesting meeting with a reasonable turnout. There was some discussion about the proposal to pedestrianise Wisbech Town Center, which is a really thorny issue locally. It’s a helter-skelter story that is just too complex to go into here. Suffice to say, there is much disagreement about what should be done. MUCH disagreement!
Officers were elected for the next year. Bruce Wegg remained chairman. Yours Truly remained Vice Chairman. Simon King remained Secretary. The only change was Town Mayor And Cllr. Jonathan Farmer elected to stand down and allow the job of treasurer to pass to Samantha Hoy, the secretary of the Fens Conservative Future group.