Sunday, 21 July 2024

From The Liberty Wall – Free Speech: How Do We Protect It? – March Of The Thought Police (Part 4)

THIS IS the fourth and final part of an article written by Dominic Sandbrook for the Daily Mail. This article follows directly on from part one part two and part three

In reprinting this article noted, our main intention is to stimulate mature debate on issues relating to free speech. It goes without saying that there are no official links between Free Speech, Dominic Sandbrook, the Daily Mail or any other news outlets referenced here.

Although this article was written last year, it’s particularly relevant given the treatment dished out to the Mail by Virgin Trains. Here, Virgin has ceased stocking the paper because of its editorial position on issues such as immigration, LGBT rights and unemployment.

Free Speech regards this as a blatant attempt to censor the press. It is a shocking attack on free speech and free thought. Indeed, it represents an attack on the overall principle of Civil and Religious Liberties For All.


March Of The Thought Police (Part 4)

Even Christianity, unless of the most explicitly Left-wing kind, is enough to damn you. Hence the confected outrage in some Leftist quarters at Theresa May, a vicar’s daughter, when she dared to talk about Britain’s ‘Christian values’ at Easter; and hence the rage against poor Mr Farron.

As the Bishop of Leeds remarked last December, we are close to creating a society in which practising Christians — never Muslims, who seem to be immune from criticism — are afraid even to ‘talk about their faith’ in case they are hounded out of their jobs, like the British Airways worker who dared to wear a crucifix, or the nurse who chose to pray for her patients.

The supreme irony is that this new intolerant liberalism is itself a kind of secular religion, albeit of a debased and degenerate kind. Its adherents live in a strange world of true believers and heretics, the pure and the damned.
They venerate a bearded prophet with the initials JC — Jeremy Corbyn. They believe unswervingly in his final victory. Doubt is unthinkable. To criticise him, as even Left-wing columnists such as the Guardian’s Polly Toynbee and Owen Jones have discovered, invites accusations of treachery and worse.
Like religious fanatics of old, they are always looking for witches and scapegoats, preferably female. A particular target, for example, is the BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg, whom Corbynista fanatics boo and hiss whenever she dares to ask him a question.
From the way they carry on, you might think we were in Spain during the darkest days of the Inquisition, when Catholic fanatics searched the land for Jews and Muslims; or in Salem, Massachusetts in the 1690s, during the notorious witch trials that inspired the play The Crucible.
But this is Britain in 2017. We are supposed to be living in an age of pluralism and tolerance, freedom of religion and freedom of speech, and in a land where your conscience is your own.
As it happens, this year marks the 500th anniversary of the moment that, more than any other, ushered in the modern world. On October 31, 1517, the German monk Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to the door of the church in Wittenberg, challenging the corruption, self-interest and authoritarianism of the Catholic Church, and starting the Protestant Reformation.
By daring to speak his mind, Luther set off an explosion of discussion and debate.
From his lone gesture of defiance you can trace a line from the Reformation to the Scientific Revolution, the 18th-century Enlightenment of new ideas and social philosophy, and finally the age of tolerance and freedom we are lucky enough to inhabit today.
What a grim irony that, even as the world prepares to mark the anniversary of the Reformation, new zealots are trying to slam the door on free speech.
For if freedom means anything, it means the right to hold unfashionable opinions, to say the unsayable and to stand in the last ditch, when every man is against you, for what you truly believe.
Tim Farron put his faith above his political career. Good for him. He has shown himself a far better man than the so-called liberals who brought him down.
But I fear he will not be the last victim of the new intolerance. Unless the rest of us stand up to the zealots, they will not rest until all dissent is silenced.
They are a threat to everything this country stands for. They must be fought. They must be beaten.
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