Saturday, June 14, 2014

No Country for Free Speech.

There is a preface to scornful statements about England and its politics that starts something like, "The country where Great Britain used to be...". Recently it appears that the English are trying to live up to that implied insult. In April of this year, Paul Weston, a candidate in the European elections, was arrested for "racial harassment" during a speech he was giving. His crime was quoting a passage about Islam taken from a book written by Winston Churchill. One of the audience member was offended by it which, I guess, made it a crime in England.

There is a penchant amongst Westerners to interpret non-Christian religions in terms of race. While I find that a peculiar notion, the fact it exists means I am not surprised that a speech critical of Islam might trigger the English laws about racial harassment. What does surprise me was such an openly political arrest. If it had happened in some third world shithole the liberal intelligentsia would be outraged -- and correctly so. However, there seemed to be little of that.

There may be reasons to be suspicious of Weston and the British Freedom Party and it was probably true that Weston was trying to provoke his audience. That does not change the fact that he was making a campaign speech and was arrested for the content. Arresting him for expressing his opinion in a peaceable manner mocks a fundamental cornerstone of modern civilization. I think that Daniel Hannan sums it up well when he writes:

In a free society, we tolerate eccentricity up to the point of madness, boorishness up to the point of intimidation, obnoxiousness up to the point of incitement.

To which I add: In the country where Great Britain used to be, freedom has become an endangered species.

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