I have repeatedly written on the alarming erosion of free speech in the United Kingdom, particularly as a result of hate speech and anti-discriminatory regulations (here and here and here). Now, Security and Immigration Minister, James Brokenshire, has stated that the government is not content with censoring language viewed as terroristic but wants to remove “”unsavoury” content.” He acknowledges that such content is not illegal but express a desire to sanitize the web of such speech. Brokenshire is an example of the insatiable appetite for censorship that develops once you allow the government to control speech. You can almost hear the “harrumph” and “hear, hear” to get the diminishing measure of free speech in England.
Brokenshire is quoted as saying that the government must do more to shape the dialogue of citizens by censoring content that is objectionable: “that may not be illegal but certainly is unsavoury and may not be the sort of material that people would want to see or receive.” He also wants more private censorship from media sites to keep nasty material from appearing.
Brokenshire is the new face of authoritarian measures in the post-9-11 age. New demands for censorship are now cloaked in expression of tolerance and pluralism. It is an appeal to the majority in asking citizens to impose limits on their own freedoms. It brings new meaning to the comment by Ralph Waldo Emerson that “Democracy becomes a government of bullies tempered by editors.”