Vir Cantium

I'm right, you know …

First They Came for the Racists

It seems that Jacqui Smith has today made an attempt to get herself some positive publicity for a change take the heat off Gordon justify her government’s authoritarian fetishes by publishing a not-so-little list of those who have been banned from the UK for “preaching hate” or somesuch.

Sadly, judging by the callers on Jeremy Vine’s programme on Radio 2 today, many were quite happy to be banning people from our land based on them having the temerity to practise the right of free speech.

Now, just because “I will defend to the death their right to say” whatever nutty, wacky or plain offensive things they might say doesn’t mean I don’t support the caveat that incitement to violence should not be punishable. Such a distinction served us well for many years before Labour decided to criminalise the expression of certain views they didn’t agree with.

Depressingly, from the general public, came comments like “we are a nation of tolerance, so it’s right to ban people with these sorts of views” without, it seems, a hint of irony. Or “people died for our freedoms, so we should allow those preaching hate to come here an threaten those freedoms”.

Oh dear. Yes, many did die for our freedoms, and will continue to do so, but if anyone thinks that we should be embarking further down that slippery slope to frogmarching off those whose views, while distasteful though not advocating violence, we don’t agree with, cherry picking those who think the right way, then I think it is they who are in the wrong country.

Today, “preaching hate”, tomorrow, “denigrating vulnerable groups”? Just don’t say I didn’t warn you.

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