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This is such a common problem; those who claim that they are advocates of freedom of speech merely do so because they want to be able to offend people freely and with no consequences. Rights should come with responsibilities, but in this context, it is more often about demanding rights but forgoing responsibilities.

I know I get in trouble here for my commenting policy since I try not to ban people or censor them. Instead, I hope that they get hist by their own petard. I have the odd fan for so doing but many of you disagree. I am a leftie liberal and the left are supposedly all about cancelling and curtailing freedom of speech. Except this is largely nonsense – smoke and mirrors to distract away from the real culprits: the right. I will be writing another piece on this culture wars myth perpetuated by the right that the left are cancel culturists. I’ve seen it on the boards here and it is patent nonsense.

I get sick and tired of the lie.

So what got my goat today. Well, in the UK, Tory Toby Young started the Free Speech Union supposedly as an organisation to stand up for freedom of speech. Of course, this is utter tripe as the organisation looks to promote freedom of speech of those they agree with and to curtail the freedoms of those with whom they disagree. It’s the same tired old bullsh!t:

Free speech is the bedrock on which all our other freedoms rest, yet it is currently in greater peril than at any time since the Second World War. The Free Speech Union is a non-partisan, mass-membership public interest body that stands up for the speech rights of its members. If you think there’s a risk you’ll be penalised for exercising your legal right to free speech, whether it’s in the workplace or the public square, you need the protection of the Free Speech Union. How might we protect you?

  • If you find yourself being targeted by a digital outrage mob on social media for having exercised your legal right to free speech, we may mobilise an army of supporters.

  • If a petition is launched calling for you to be fired, when you’ve done nothing other than exercise your legal right to free speech, we may help you organise a counter-petition.

  • If you’re no-platformed by a university—a feminist professor who challenges trans orthodoxy, for instance—we’ll encourage you to fight back and members of our advisory councils may be able to tell you what remedies are available to you.

  • If you’re a student being investigated by your university for breaching a speech code, we may take up your case with the university

  • If you’re punished by your employer because you’ve exercised your lawful right to free speech, we’ll do our best to provide you with assistance or refer you to specialists who can help.

 You should be able to see through their facade. This happens in the US so often and it appears to be a tawdry import to the UK of late.

The most recent example of their hypocrisy and double standards concerns the IOC (International Olympic Commission) and their decision to ban athletes from taking the knee. Now, I don’t want this to be a sidetrack discussing the relative merits or lack thereof of taking the knee – you may or may not think it now fails to achieve what it set out to; you may think every Premier League football match achieves little with universal knee-taking, and so on. That’s another discussion. You may think the IOC is right to do so for consequentialist reasons. Whatever.

I am more interested in what the FSU have come out to say, given that so many people have been lambasted from the right for not protesting peacefully, but when it happened from Colin Kaepernick and others, the right lost the plot. Even if you disagree with taking the knee and what it stands for, if you are genuinely interested in freedom of speech, you would be fighting for their right to do so.

But no. The FSU has, rather predictably, come out to defend the IOC’s banning of taking the knee. You know, rules and all that.

Here, the whole matter is discussed by the brilliant Novara Media.

YouTube video

The principle of free speech advocates is that people should be allowed to voice opinions and do or say things even if they are unpopular. But the main defence the FSU give to banning the knee-taking is that polls show it is unpopular! You couldn’t make this up.

The right scrabble around, as I am sure some on the thread below will, to defend such action rather than sucking it up and owning it, and being logically consistent. The FSU’s Statement of Values runs diametrically opposed to the position that the spokesperson advocated:

The Free Speech Union believes that if society doesn’t uphold the right to express controversial, eccentric, heretical, provocative or unwelcome opinions, then it doesn’t uphold free speech.

Bunch of charlatans.

All they want is the ability to herald those they agree with whilst silencing those they don’t.

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Jonathan MS Pearce

A TIPPLING PHILOSOPHER Jonathan MS Pearce is a philosopher, author, columnist, and public speaker with an interest in writing about almost anything, from skepticism to science, politics, and morality,...