The Shut-Uppery

February 10, 2012 at 3:34 pm (Free Speech, rights, Rosie B)

The One Law for All 11 February rally for Free Expression is being held in London from 14:00-16:00 hours at the Old Palace Yard opposite the House of Lords.

The call for action follows an increased number of attacks on free expression in the UK, including a 17 year old Rhys Morgan being forced to remove a Jesus and Mo cartoon or face expulsion from his Sixth Form College and demands by the UCL Union that the Atheist society remove a Jesus and Mo cartoon from its Facebook page.

It also follows threats of violence, police being called, and the cancellation of a meeting at Queen Mary College where One Law for All spokesperson Anne Marie Waters was to deliver a speech on Sharia. More recently, the LSE Student Union has asked the atheist society to remove its affiliation to the union again due to a Jesus and Mo cartoon.

Clearly, the time has come to take a firm and uncompromising stand for free expression and against all forms of bogus accusations, threats and censorship.

The right to criticise religion is a fundamental right that is crucial to many, including Muslims.

Speakers are: Richard Dawkins (Scientist); A C Grayling (Philosopher); Alex Gabriel (Blogger); Anne Marie Waters (One Law for All); Caroline Cox (Peer); Derek Lennard (Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association); Faisal Gazi (Spittoon.org); Gita Sahgal, (Centre for Secular Space); Hasan Afzal (Stand for Peace); Jennifer Hardy (Queen Mary Atheism Humanism and Secularism Society); Jenny Bartle (National Federation of Atheist, Humanist and Secular Student Societies); Jim Fitzpatrick (MP); Kate Smurthwaite (Comedian); Kenan Malik (Writer); Lilith (Poet, Anti-Injustice Movement) ; Marco Tranchino (Central London Humanist Group); Mark Embleton (Atheism UK); Maryam Namazie (One Law for All and Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain); Nick Cohen (Writer); Nick Doody (Comedian); Pragna Patel (Southall Black Sisters); Rashid Ali (Centri); Rhys Morgan (Student activist); Roy Brown (International Humanist and Ethical Union); Rupert Sutton (Student Rights); Sohaila Sharifi (Equal Rights Now); Sue Cox (Survivors Voice Europe); Sundas Hoorain (London School of Economics Atheist, Secularist, and Humanist Society); Susan Zhuang (University College London Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society); Terry Sanderson/Keith Porteous Wood (National Secular Society); and Yasmin Rehman (Campaigner). There will also be a message from Jesus and Mo creator. Iranian Secular Society’s Fariborz Pooya will be the Master of Ceremonies.

More info here.

Background to the events that Ophelia Benson designates as the “shut-uppery at UCL and Queen Mary U and LSE”.

If I lived near the Great Plughole I’d go to this.

21 Comments

  1. Andrew Coates said,

    This a good initiative.

    There is also the issue of free speech in Belgium with the gay feminist writer Caroline Fourest shouted down by ‘anti-Zionist’ Islamophiles this Wednesday at the University of Brussels:

    http://tendancecoatesy.wordpress.com/2012/02/09/caroline-fourest-shouted-down-as-islamophobe-in-belgium-university/

  2. Jimmy said,

    What Jesus and Mo cartoon was it?

  3. Sarah AB said,

    It was just an image of Jesus and Mo having a pint – no text, just a single frame I think.

  4. Jimmy said,

  5. SteveH said,

    And not forgetting those who scream anti semite and hound those for simply being opposed to Israel and its oppression of Palestinians.

    Also does the ‘rally for free expression’ cover those people who were recently imprisoned for handing out leaflets calling for gay people to be killed, or so called ‘hate preachers’ who want some ‘retributive justice’. If not then they need to think about changing the name of the rally to the rally for things we want to say things about but excluding those things we don’t think should be said. Less catchy but more to the point perhaps?

  6. blerrgggHHHHHH CKomentaryERER said,

    You are a fucking plank MrH – a toddler could draw a distinction between publishing a cartoon satirising religion and those who advocate the killing of people on the basis of their sexuality. That said, I’ve got no interest in supporting this ‘one law for all’ shower. Will be a bunch o’ liberal pricks loudly decrying ‘moral equivalence’, ‘cultural relativism’ and ‘the follies* of multiculturalism’. The sort of muppets that think all the werLDs problems would be solved if people were ‘more rational’.

    * yes, many of them will say follies – like that floppy haired CuuueRNT Eh Sea GREYLING

  7. Rosie said,

    You are a fucking plank MrH – a toddler could draw a distinction between publishing a cartoon satirising religion and those who advocate the killing of people on the basis of their sexuality.

    Blerrgh saves me the trouble of pointing out the grossly obvious.

  8. SteveH said,

    “a toddler could draw a distinction between publishing a cartoon satirising religion and those who advocate the killing of people on the basis of their sexuality.”

    Indeed, but please ask the toddler to explain why they are not both examples of free expression. Remember the law introduced by New Labour to include religious hatred was introduced to combat a growing problem of race hate under the cover of relgious criticism and this is the law that has had the Dawkins of this world bleating, as if their fundamental human rights had been infringed. Like they don’t satirise religion enough! I sometimes womder what they have to complain about if I am honest.

    “That said, I’ve got no interest in supporting this ‘one law for all’ shower.”

    Don’t worry they have no intention either!

  9. Jim Denham said,

    “…please ask the toddler to explain why they are not both examples of free expression. Remember the law introduced by New Labour …”

    Enough said.

    H: you are not worth debating. I still cannot decide whether you are evil or just very, very stupid.

    Or (thankfully) both: if you were not so stupid, you’d clearly be very dangerous.

    As it is, we’ll probably tolerate you after the revolution.

    • sackcloth and ashes said,

      ‘I still cannot decide whether you are evil or just very, very stupid’.

      He’s a swanker. He’s both. And it’s no surprise to see him siding with the zealots. Swuppie scum would sell their souls for any political advantage, if they had any.

  10. SteveH said,

    Dont really understand why you cut the sentence off at New Labour.

    Who said I was debating btw?

    But I guess you are avoiding the question because you can’t answer it.

    In the USA this has been an area of serious debate, really liberal lawyers have defended neo Nazi’s for example, this is how seriously some people take freedom of speech. Here the debate is narrower, fitting in with the narrow concerns of Dawkins et al.

  11. Jim Denham said,

    “Dont really understand why you cut the sentence off at New Labour.”

    Yup: definitely stupid. Case now proven beyond reasonable doubt.

    Evil? probably. But the jury’s still out.

  12. SteveH said,

    I am actually suspecting you are the stupid one but don’t realise it!

  13. Clive said,

    SteveH – it’s true there are those who take an extreme ‘libertarian’ approach to freedom of speech, and argue it should include, literally, anything. The most notorious case of such a view on the left was the decision by Chomsky to write a foreward to a book by a Holocaust denier – a decision he defended on ‘free speech’ grounds.

    But it doesn’t follow that anyone who takes a less extreme view is thereby caught out in some hopeless illogic. It is a commonplace of all debate about free speech going back to at least Mill that things which *harm* other people are not in the same category as things which don’t.

    And I doubt anyone, even Chomsky, would take very kindly to someone, say, standing outside their house screaming ‘This man rapes babies twice a day! He is personally responsible for my own manic depression! He slaughtered an entire family of refugees right in front of me in my front room!’

    The Jesus and Mo cartoon isn’t really in that category. Now is it.

  14. Sarah AB said,

    Quite. I recently read someone arguing that the homophobic leaflets should be allowed on free speech grounds, and that’s a position I can certainly understand as part of a consistent libertarian approach..

    At the rally people distinguished between hate speech on grounds of sexuality, gender, race, disability – and criticism or mockery of ideas. One SWP poster described the posting of a Jesus and Mo cartoon as a sign of a ‘festering undercurrent of racism’. That’s just ridiculous. One speaker described the real problem of anti-Muslim bigotry, and asserted (I think correctly) that this has nothing to do with Jesus and Mo. (Though it might have something to do with souped up stories in the tabloids.)

  15. sackcloth and ashes said,

    Talking of ‘festering racism’, did the SWP expel Sean Wallis when he spread anti-Semitic smears that originated from a neo-Nazi website?

    http://www.fairplaycg.org.uk/2009/05/ucu-whatever-did-he-mean-by-that/

  16. SteveH said,

    “I recently read someone arguing that the homophobic leaflets should be allowed on free speech grounds, and that’s a position I can certainly understand as part of a consistent libertarian approach.. ”

    Of course that position leads down the Claire Fox road, not somehere I want to follow. My problem is the use of the word free expression – I find it politically neutral and frankly a total misuse of the term. I have no problem with the state restricting the use of bigoted material. I take the view that society develops these boundaries as part of the dialectical ebb and flow. As part of the battle for democracy. And while it is always in motion the actual snapshot position is a combination of a given time and place. But that ebb and flow needs a bit of Pete Tactchell (or Dawkins) direct action now and again. Making himself a nuisance will pay off, he will go to his grave knowing he made a productive contribution. Sometimes direct action can be taken up by more reactionary elements, the church have recently latched onto this. EG the issue around prayers at council meetings has prompted the church to portray itself as an oppressed minority, maybe they are right about that. On the issue of banning homophobic material, I would support that, on the prayer issue I would support the removal of the prayer. On locking people up for calling for riots online, I am against that and would join a rally to defend these people. Take each case on its merits. But from a legal point of view this has its problems, hence you get imperfect legislation such as New Labour’s law against incitement to religious hatred. A law which was passed in response to a real material situation.

    I see these laws being the same as rules and standards. Marxists have supported the state setting down standards, eg in Education. Why not have standards in public life that reflect the latest developments in civil society?

    The complication is that in some places this restriction is at absurd levels, as in Saudi Arabia. But that is no less a reflection of time and place. Screaming at all the injustice has its place but also its limitations. The real is the rational and rational is the real is still the truest bloody word Hegel ever said!

    I have never met a libertarian who has no boundaries (psychos excepted), which undermines the whole of libertarianism in my mind.

    So I am not a supporter of free expression, I am a supporter of “things we want to say things about but excluding those things we don’t think should be said”. That implies a level of struggle, either class or idenity or whatever. It doesn’t have the wishy washy neutrality of free expression.

  17. charliethechulo said,

    I realise, of course, that Mr H is a far greater Marxist and more profound thinker than that petty bourgeois supporter of “free expression”, Rosa Luxemburg, but here’s what she had to say on the subject:
    ************************

    Lenin says [in The State and Revolution: The Transition from Capitalism to Communism] the bourgeois state is an instrument of oppression of the working class; the socialist state, of the bourgeoisie. To a certain extent, he says, it is only the capitalist state stood on its head. This simplified view misses the most essential thing: bourgeois class rule has no need of the political training and education of the entire mass of the people, at least not beyond certain narrow limits. But for the proletarian dictatorship that is the life element, the very air without which it is not able to exist.

    “Thanks to the open and direct struggle for governmental power,” writes Trotsky, “the laboring masses accumulate in the shortest time a considerable amount of political experience and advance quickly from one stage to another of their development.”

    Here Trotsky refutes himself and his own friends. Just because this is so, they have blocked up the fountain of political experience and the source of this rising development by their suppression of public life! Or else we would have to assume that experience and development were necessary up to the seizure of power by the Bolsheviks, and then, having reached their highest peak, become superfluous thereafter. (Lenin’s speech: Russia is won for socialism!!!)

    In reality, the opposite is true! It is the very giant tasks which the Bolsheviks have undertaken with courage and determination that demand the most intensive political training of the masses and the accumulation of experience.

    Freedom only for the supporters of the government, only for the members of one party – however numerous they may be – is no freedom at all. Freedom is always and exclusively freedom for the one who thinks differently. Not because of any fanatical concept of “justice” but because all that is instructive, wholesome and purifying in political freedom depends on this essential characteristic, and its effectiveness vanishes when “freedom” becomes a special privilege.

    The Bolsheviks themselves will not want, with hand on heart, to deny that, step by step, they have to feel out the ground, try out, experiment, test now one way now another, and that a good many of their measures do not represent priceless pearls of wisdom. Thus it must and will be with all of us when we get to the same point–even if the same difficult circumstances may not prevail everywhere.

    ******************************************
    Get that: “Freedom only for the supporters of the government, only for the members of one party – however numerous they may be – is no freedom at all. Freedom is always and exclusively freedom for the one who thinks differently.”

    But then, compared with Mr H (Hero of The Revolution) Luxemburg was, of course, a mere dilettante.

  18. SteveH said,

    I was fully aware of the Luxemburg quote ChuChu train! It is just that I don’t treat these people as prophets. Though I always thought it was freedom for the dissenters. Freedom for people who think differently is again rather more apolitical if you ask me.

    But anyway, pedantry aside, the Luxembourg quote does support the right of those calling for the murder of gays does it not? Forgive me if my libertarianism does not extend that far, or my definition of dissenter is rather more refined!

    Another problem with the Luxembourg quote, imo, is that is only adresses freedom in the context of thought/ideas but not in relation to action. If you are free to think but not to act, what is that freedom worth?

  19. charliethechulo said,

    People like Luxemburg are/were not “prophets”. H: just a bit more knowledgeable, experienced and heroic than you (or I).

    So what, exactly, has Luxemburg got wrong when she champions the “freedom to think differently’? And how is that formulation “apolitical’? please elucidate

    As for “freedom to murder gays”: is it reading, thinking or understanding that you have trouble with ( (all three I’d say)?

    Clue: Luxembourg is clearly writing about freedom of *expression*: someone who does not understand the rather fundamental difference between that and freedom of *action* is not just stupid and dangerous: he’s a psychopath.

  20. blereg|GgHHH commetearyewrwer said,

    why amMAreica mustr be destryed:

    http://motherjones.com/politics/2012/02/michigan-emergency-manager-pontiac-detroit

    DEATJHU TO AMEREIVSWAA!” V

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 504 other followers

%d bloggers like this: