We have previously discussed the alarming rollback on free speech rights in the West, particularly in England ( here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here). England is now a tragic example of how speech regulation and criminalization becomes insatiable — producing a down spiral as more and more speech is found intolerable or criminal. The most recent example is the call to ban Donald Trump from entry into the United Kingdom as someone guilty of hate speech. While I have criticized Trump’s statements about barring Muslims from entering the country, he is entitled to voice his views on immigration and participate in a debate about how we are going to handle both immigration and national security concerns. The chilling thing about this debate in Parliament is not that it will succeed in barring Trump but that it would not be in any way out of order with prior content-based sanctions.
Much of this trend is tied to the expansion of hate speech and non-discrimination laws. We have seen comedians targeted with such court orders under this expanding and worrisome trend. (here and here).
Now even debating the risks of Muslim immigration as a policy is deemed hate speech and sanctionable by many. A far more useful debate on January 18th in Parliament is to look at the rapid decline of free speech in England. It is of course not alone. We have seen politicians like Dutch politician Geert Wilders prosecuted over what should clearly be protected speech. England has blocked Wilders and even speakers like Michael Savage based on disagreements with what they believe and say. Likewise, in France, Marine LePen is under investigation for speaking her mind on immigration.
What is truly distressing is that this petition was started by someone described as a “journalist.” Suzanne Kelly celebrated the news that someone with whom she disagrees could now be barred from entering the country: “However the debate goes, this exercise has brought many people together to speak out against hate speech and prejudice. That is my reward, and one I’m very happy and moved by.” It is a curious reward for a “journalist” to rally a mob against unpopular speakers and seek to impose content-based speech controls.
Kelly appears the very personification of the problem of the addictive aspect of speech controls. Kelly, a contributing writer for the community website Aberdeen Voice, said “The more I looked at Donald Trump and the remarks he has made before entering the presidential race, the more my hackles were rising . . . There are few things a person in my position can do against a person like that but make use of this country’s wonderful laws and procedures.” Those “wonderful” laws involve punishing people with whom you disagree. Time will only tell is speech in the future by Kelly get the “hackles” up of others — who will call for her own silencing or sanctioning. Movements for ensorship and speech controls tend to be like Saturn and devour their own.
Thus, we will watch on January 18th as free people rally around the concept of less freedom — calling for their government to curtail the freedom of everyone in order to silence those with whom they disagree. There is of course an alternative. Kelly could use that journalist identity and actually respond to Trump and his ideas. Now that is a novel concept.