Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Freedom of Speech includes those we despise

Today, the Home Secretary is ready to ban a provocative anti-war march in Wootton Basset, reports the Daily Mail and other press organs.

Remember this day. Voltaire once said, "I do not agree with a word you say, but I will fight to the death for your right to say it". Today that principle died in the UK. For years we've accepted provocative marches like the Orange men, CND, BNP, whatever, as the price to pay for living in a liberal democracy. Today, thanks to lots of jingoist, outraged fear and loathing propaganda and Daily Mail bigotry, we've given up yet another of our civil liberties.

Here's what Chomsky says: "If you believe in freedom of speech, you believe in freedom of speech for views you don't like. Stalin and Hitler, for example, were dictators in favor of freedom of speech for views they liked only. If you're in favor of freedom of speech, that means you're in favor of freedom of speech precisely for views you despise."

Freedoms are always hard-won, and easily lost. Here goes another one. Remember - the next time you want to protest, or exercise your freedom of speech, you may no longer be allowed...

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