Thursday, 19 February 2009

Carnival on Modern Liberty: No Freedom of Speech = No Public Liberty

When the Labour Government first banned protesters in Parliament some people didn't think it would infringe too much on this countries freedom of speech. Under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights all people have "the right to hold opinions without interference. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression".

No while I don't agree with the views of Geert Wilders nor the views of Fred Phelps of Westboro Church and his daughter Shirley Phelps-Roper the fact is that both Wilders and now the Phelpses have been denied entry to the UK. They have been denied the right to express themselves. However, as with Geert Wilders last week this may get their message across more clearly and louder than if they have been allowed in.

John Stuart Mill in On Liberty wrote:

"The peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error."

So Jacqui Smith has twice in a week performed just such a peculiar evil of denying the ability to have discourse to unearth the error in that opinion.

Maybe Wilders in right when he called the UK government cowards for refusing his entry. But as with Derek Draper's LabourList diatribe in recent weeks it appears to be the Labour default position. As position to ban any who don't agree with what you say instead of engaging in debate. It is also generally the default position of those for whom the argument is lost to want to avoid debate at any cost. Is that where Labour is?

Benjamin Franklin said:

"Without Freedom of thought there can be no such thing as wisdom; and no such thing as public liberty without freedom of speech."

Sadly now that we cannot take pictures of the police or things that may be considered useful for terrorism our liberties are being eroded. With the Labour government and its apologists trying to control what can be said or blogged we are heading to a dark place devoid of public liberty.

They can watch you, want to read your emails and keep you biometric data. But you are not allowed to come to your own conclusions, think with you own brain or possible go about your business without proving you are you. The liberties we once held dear are going, going....

Does this mean the terrorists have won because are Government and Labour are too scared to let anything go on that might give them opportunity. And the price? Our liberty.

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