Thursday, 15 January 2015

French and British Multiculturalism and why Britain's Future may be a Silent One


This post first appeared on Adam Penny's new blog, which you can find here.

The difference between the way that France and Britain have responded to the questions raised over the murder of the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists as a result of the, admittedly vulgar, cartoons directed at the prophet Muhammad, is that France's media has taken the view that because a murder has been committed trying to curtail Charlie Hebdo's freedom of expression by insulting anyone it chooses (and it has been shown that it has drawn no less derogatory cartoons about other faiths or ideas), that the response has been 'someone has tried to force us to stop this, which means that we must keep doing it'. In contrast, in the UK press the attitude has been very different, with the BBC preventing its journalists from showing the offending cartoons, because of a wish not to offend the Muslim community. The reaction has been similar in the rest of the UK Press.

One reaction from some Muslims has been that they are offensive, so they must be banned. On the other hand, the reaction of some Muslims has been that it's a cartoon, however vulgar, and does nothing to actually tarnish the prophet Muhammad's reputation, thus ignore it. However, the approach taken by the BBC has been, well, it's offensive to some Muslims so it should be banned.

There are multiple flaws in this logic. Firstly, banning it because some Muslims may be offended fails to deal with Muslims as individuals. It doesn't allow for the opinion of the Muslims that are willing to just ignore it as something of no consequence. Some Muslims are angry about it, so you mustn't be allowed to say or do anything that could be considered offensive.

In another area, golliwogs are largely considered off limits because there is a view that they are offensive to black people. That all starts to fall down when Chaka Artwell, who is black, comes along and insists on wearing a golliwog around his neck for a BBC interview because 'this was a popular little guy when he was young' and 'white, middle-class liberal types' had decided his doll was racist and offensive. The BBC didn't interview him because his way of expressing himself didn't fit a presumption of how a black man or woman would react to a golliwog.

The concerning thing is where this goes. What if atheists become a 'community', with more extreme elements taking objection to any utterance that forwards the idea that there might be a God, even if more easy-going atheists might not have any issue? Are we then to take the view that some atheists may be offended by anything to do with religion so we should prevent any religious utterances in the media in order not to offend atheists?

This is why responding to anything offensive by demanding a ban is fundamentally flawed. You have to allow for it to be said, even if you don't like it, or the end result will be that nobody can say anything.

Saturday, 10 January 2015

And Thus Dies Liberty, With Obsequious Cowering

I am one of those that did the #JeSuisCharlie thing on Twitter and Facebook, as did millions. Millions of cowards, that is. This is a guest post by Frank Fisher, which I have reproduced with permission from @Holbornlolz

If you must #JeSuisCharlie, then #JeSuisCharlie like this....

For the UK media, the terrorists have already won

There is a unanimity in the media today, a striking consistency across the papers and airwaves. Everywhere there is talk of supporting free speech, and everywhere there is its surrender. Our Fourth Estate is in full flight from reality, as it was during the original MoToons crisis of 2005. Like then, all the talk is of backing those who provoke and question, using cartoons and satire, but just as then, this is lip service only. Where are the deeds that back free speech? Where are the Charlie Hebdo cartoons on front pages? Nowhere.

Across continental Europe bold newspapers  feature mocking portraits of Mohammed, spiked illustrations defiling the psychotics of ISIS – here in the UK the Axis of Weasel holds full sway; the covers are all deeply, deeply significant for what they do not show. Absence is today’s theme.

Yet everywhere pontificating columnists are pompously telling each other, and us, that they are defending free speech, that it is essential to democracy. Politicans too, who every day find a new victim to denounce for speechcrimes against the people, are today telling us we must cherish the free speech that they long ago stole from us.

I find myself recoiling not just in anger at these clowns, but in instinctive disgust too. Ours is the press of the madhouse, this consistency of delusion is a mass hysteria, denial on a national scale. Fear – physical fear,  and fear of offending against political correctness  -  has led our *entire* media to a blanket self-censorship, while their ridiculous arrogance and delusion has woven a shield of denial that allows them to stitch their mouths firmly shut while mumbling that they are free.

A few show flickers of sanity through the miasma of madness; Dan Hodges, always the first to demand obeisance before the twin gods of “tolerance” and “diversity” is here first to indicate what those cruel gods inflict on their followers, when admitting his own personal cowardice in refusing to tweet a MoToon in solidarity. David Aaronovitch, Blairite of old, demands an end to timidity in defending free expression, from the pitifully timid pages of the Times. Once the Thunderer, now the Whisperer.

This matters. Twelve people are dead in Paris in part because of the failure of Western media to rigidly and universally defend free speech in 2005 and onwards. The obvious reluctance to back our principles in deed showed thuggish Islamic censors that the West would mutter about free speech, but would bottle it in a fight. This was most wretchedly displayed here in the UK, where our press eagerly gagged itself at the behest of the Blair government, demanding “responsible” and “restrained” free speech, urged on by the odious advocate of self-censorship Shami Chakrabarti, and former satirists Private Eye. Mass desertion in the face of enemy fire left those few brave souls of Charlie Hebdo and Jyllands-Posten to march towards the guns alone – with the consequence we have seen today.

It is, however, worse than that. Terrorism is a rare beast. It doesn’t frighten me much. It’s unlikely to touch me, or mine. The abandonment of free speech in the UK does frighten me. Not only because the example of angry Muslims winning their censorship battle has given carte blanche to every furious group, from feminists to scousers, to demand silence. But because it says “we will not fight to defend our way of life”. That, as every student of history knows, is an open invitation to war. Appeasement shows a bold enemy that you have no stomach for a fight, that you present an easy target, a fast and effortless victory. I’m not frightened of terrorism, but I am of civil war. Our media/ political class’s abandonment of solid liberal values that we once thought inviolate is putting our country at risk. Here, they have surrendered without a shot being fired.