Sunday, 20 August 2017

From The Liberty Wall – Free Speech: How Do We Protect It? – Civil & Religious Liberties For All!

LAST YEAR marked the 800th Anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta – the ‘Great Charter’. This occurred on 15th June at Runnymede (near Windsor Castle) in Surrey between the barons of England and King John.

The Magna Carta amounted to a series of written promises between the king and his subjects. It meant that King John would govern England and deal with its people according to the customs of feudal law. It was an attempt by the barons to stop a king abusing his power.

Basically, the Magna Carta ensured that the king recognised that some of his subjects had individual rights. Years later the ‘Glorious Revolution’ of King William III – sometimes called William of Orange or ‘King Billy’ – heralded a transition from the personal rule of the royal House of Stuart to the more democratic and Parliament-centred House of Hanover. Indeed, King Billy’s victory at the Battle of the Boyne cemented the idea of ‘Civil & Religious Liberties For All.’

Since those times, Britain has become known as a liberal democracy. However, in recent times our democracy has come under attack from groups as diverse as the Socialist Workers Party – who seek to deny a platform with anyone they disagree with – to the current Tory government – who would seek to use the threat of ‘Islamic terrorism’ to erode our rights to free speech and assembly.

With this in mind, last year also saw the formation the Facebook group Free Speech: How Do We Protect It?

The raison d’être of the group is simple:

FREE SPEECH is a new group which aims to promote, protect and preserve civil and religious liberties for all. We are interested in all aspects of freedom.  However, we are especially interested in instances whereby elements of the State try to restrict freedom of speech and assembly.

We believe that Britain should have a formal constitution and bill of rights, based on the concept of civil and religious liberties for all.  We also feel that a civil rights’ watchdog should be established to protect people’s ability to make use of these fundamental rights.

We believe in absolute free speech – with very few exceptions to this rule e.g. inciting violence. Either we all have rights – or none of us have rights.’
The group is interested in all aspects relating to civil liberties, but is particularly interested in areas whereby ‘elements of the State trying to curtail free speech and so on.’ Indeed, hardly a week seems to go by without someone or some group being ‘No Platformed’ at university or being accused of ‘anti-semitism’, ‘racism’, ‘hate speech’ or ‘inappropriate speech’ without any of these terms being precisely defined.

Towards the end of last year the group also produced issue 1 of Free Speech. Issue 2 should be out soon.

In the meantime, those who have a particular interest in civil liberties should check out the Facebook page of Free Speech: How Do We Protect It? which can be found here https://www.facebook.com/groups/1607711629485795/

Additionally, those who love of liberty who wish to promote the idea – especially at election times when some people tend to be more receptive – should look here http://15thjunemagnacarta.org/

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