British Move Toward Censoring “Unsavory” Internet Speech

220px-JamesBrokenshireHomeOfficeI 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.”

52 thoughts on “British Move Toward Censoring “Unsavory” Internet Speech”

  1. PCers have all these qualifiers involving “feeling” and “marginalization” and other horseshit. The PCers here secretly applaud this stuff in GB but don’t have the guts to admit it. So they hedge their bets w/ horseshit equivocation.

  2. Paul, you would be wrong. I suggest you reexamine your own tactics, which several commenters saw through almost immediately. I’m not going to get into a tit for tat here on this thread with you.

    1. This legislates speech not morality. However, the problem is that ‘unsavory’ is such a slippery slope anything could be on it. 🙂 Even discussion of ‘unsavory.’

      1. Censoring internet speech can and probably would censor morality. “They” ultimately would stop discussions about gay marriage, legalizing marijuana or prostitution to name just three morality arenas that would be forbidden ‘free speech.’ Putting a government agency in charge of monitoring internet speech would result in discussions about weather and gardening.

  3. I never liked savory….. In salad….. But to each its own….. But I do like a good savory perfume…… On the right person….. So… I guess I like unsavory salads…. Speech…. Get the F@&$ over it….

  4. J. Brian Harris, Ph.D., P.E. writes: “James Broken Administrative Region”-Shire. Apt and witty.:-)

  5. Sometimes, the English (English, that is, as in Great Britain) language can be happenstance-poetic?

    Some time in the past, the unitary monarchy government of Great Britain was partitioned into administrative regions which were named “shires.”

    So, “Worcestershire Sauce” was a sauce for which the administrative region of Worcester became known far away from Worcester?

    So, we have a story about a person whose “real” name, as I can grasp it, is “James Broken Administrative Region.”

    For myself, I find his apparent choice of words, with regard to public safety and public well-being to be massively objectionable, save for the curious feature that I find it in the public interest to learn to understand what is not in the public interest.

  6. Beginning to get a clearer picture of why people wanted to leave Britain to form a new government.

  7. It is sad indeed but it is of the government’s own doing. First they let the dawgs out without any leashes and let them radicalise the youth, then they had to bear the brunt of the terrorist attacks and hacking of a soldier and many other things. It becomes too late to put genie back in the bottle at times.

    When I lived there in the 60’s and 70’s, my driver’s license had no picture and still does not and it expires when I get to be 75. The govt used to discourage people to keep important papers like car registration, DL and insurance in the car. UK, being a small country, if one was stopped by the police and had no documents, they were given 5 days to present them at the police station of their choice. Lots of people who did not have the DL’s sent their friends in their places.

    This problem of liberty will get worse in all over Europe because of the EU passport which can allow anyone to travel and work anywhere.

    I hope they find a better way to curtail the radicalism with the help of free speech which they can track if it goes off the London Bridge.

  8. I want folks to be able to keep on saying whatever their hearts desire, even if I disagree, as long as and I and others get to tell them we disagree. Sometimes when an opposing view is expressed there are those who would shut down speech with methods that have nothing to do with government censorship. One sees this on the internet forums all the time. Attempts at “outing” anonymous posters, denigration by personal insult, intimidation by posting personal information about another commenter, bullying, harassment and more. The internet is a tough place and it helps to learn how to be unintimidated and to keep saying it as you see it, no matter the pushback.

  9. “Unsavory” will include any comments that negatively reflect on this attempt at censorship.

  10. RW Nye: that is the best argument in favor of total openness that I have ever seen – I will definitely remember your point.
    Unfortunately once there is the capability to ‘control’ what one segment do not like, we are in mortal danger of being kept in the dark ‘for our own good’ (of course!!) even more than now, so in the end we have NO IDEA what is truth !!
    But of course there are many who want it that way – the masses are way too dangerous to the powerful when they know what those in power are actually doing !!

  11. One argument for totally free speech is that it lets us know who among is really, truly wicked or crazy. The electronic slug-trail left behind by such people can be a valuable reference tool for calling them out when they try to conceal their worst selves in order to gain positions of power or influence.

  12. Now that transparency has a new meaning can “unsavory” be far behind?

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