We face an unprecedented onslaught on our abilities to speak freely in society on issues which the establishment has decreed as off limits. Free speech is the bedrock of a free society with open and free debate being one of the big drivers of innovation and justice.
Je suis Charlie – Je suis liberté not anymore…. The slow strangulation of our fundamental freedoms.
In January 2015 two Jihadist gunmen forced their way into the offices of the satirical French magazine Charlie Hedbo and murdered cartoonists, journalists and other employees of the magazine including its editor Charb. According to media reports at the time, witnesses said they had heard the gunmen shouting “We have avenged the Prophet Muhammad” and “God is Great” in Arabic while calling out the names of the journalists as they machine gunned them to death.
After the attack there was outrage, social media accounts across the globe in apparent solidarity with the victims of this heinous attack, started trending with the phrase “Je suis Charlie” (I am Charlie) sadly as it turned out very few people were Charlie!
The assault on CH was the most shocking “Civilizational clash” between the forces of freedom and liberalism and the regressive forces of religious fascism, that had been seen in the West since the 911 attacks, as dreadful as the attacks were and as loud as the outcry was from the “great and the good” the long term reaction of government, policy makers and the media was cowardly and short sighted, to say the least! Even worse was the reaction of some prominent Muslim community leaders and NGOs.
Rather than condemn this vile assault on a freedom of speech a fundamental right protected by international law media outlets, Government spokesmen and political commentators began to back track on the initial denunciation of the assault on the cartoonists.
The media rather than grasp the opportunity to republish the offensive cartoons backed away from the controversy, with a “nothing to see here gov” attitude. The BBC flagship news show Newsnight deployed a quivering Evan Davies to hold the front cover of the latest edition of CH to camera for what seemed like less than a Milli second before burying the magazine among a stack of newspapers.
The reaction of many in the UK Government and policy makers, before and since the attack has been to equate any critique of Islam with racism. This has been encouraged and incubated by Islamist NGOs and spokesmen and the occasional “spokeswoman”. The ultimate aim of the Islamist lobby groups is to ban any critique of Islam in the West using either “Hate” laws or Blasphemy laws. In the UK this culminated in the controversial APPG on Islamophobia definition of Islamophobia “Islamophobia is rooted in racism and is a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness.” Thankfully the Conservative Government rejected this definition that would have put a knife through the heart of freedom of speech and religion in the UK.
The reaction from the Muslim community in the UK to the terror attack on CH was even more shocking the following headline was published in the independent Newspaper on 25th Feb 2015.
“One in four British Muslims ‘have some sympathy for motives behind Charlie Hebdo attacks’
A ComRes poll for the BBC carried out between 26 January and 20 February 2015 asked 1,000 British Muslims questions about living in the UK after a spate of attacks in Europe. According to the poll Over a quarter of British Muslims have some sympathy for the motives behind the Charlie Hebdo massacre
In 2015, the so called “Islamic Human rights commission gave the CH their “International Islamophobe of the Year” award less than 2 months after 12 members of staff at the magazine had been killed by Islamic extremists.
The attack on CH was not the first assault on freedom by Islamic fanatics who want to silence all critical analysis, mockery or challenge to their religion, its founder its texts and its long and bloody history. The Ummah has a long history of silencing critics of the “prophet” and its texts. According to Islamic sources Muhammad had several people killed for mocking him or challenging his authority, in all the Major schools of Islamic Jurisprudence blasphemy is punishable by death and apostasy or leaving the religion carries the same punishment. In more recent years Salman Rushdie was forced in to hiding for decades and people involved in publishing his book were targeted and killed by those offended by his book the Satanic verses.
So it is clear that we have a problem in 21st century Western civilization with religious intolerance freedom of religion and free speech, emanating from section of the Muslim community, is that the only threat we face to this most fundamental of our freedom?
Sadly not, we are now faced with overzealous authorities that have been in some way enchanted by a new intolerant tolerance, an impure puritanism and a non-righteous self-righteousness. This strange media and government sponsored psychosis, has been legislated for in the guise of “Hate” laws, the definition of a hate incident show the madness and danger that this thinking is fostering.
“Any incident/crime which is perceived by the victim or any other person to be motivated by a hostility or prejudice based on a person’s religion or perceived religion.”
“Any incident/criminal offence which is perceived, by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by a hostility or prejudice against a person who is transgender or perceived to be transgender”.
If we analyse these two definitions, we see the sinister nature of this legislation and we understand why it is being misused by overzealous “PC” PCs.
The public are being encouraged to report “non crimes” or “Incidents” to the police, if they are “perceived” to be “hostile” to people with “protected characteristics”.
“Protected characteristics” would include, sexual orientation, race, religion and Transgenderism.
The so-called actual hate crimes include “verbal abuse” and “Bullying” both of these “crimes” are difficult to prove, and if we are relying on the perception of “victims” and witness rather than the actual facts of the case, we can see that the possibility of malicious use of this legislation is highly likely. In fact, it is not just highly likely but is already happening as we will see!
The first case we will look at was taken against a Belfast Pastor in 2016. For allegedly being “grossly offensive” to the Muslim community. The charges were brought not using the new all-encompassing hate speech laws but using the Communications Act 2003. Pastor McConnell was accused of improper use of a public electronic communications network, and causing a grossly offensive message to be sent by means of a public electronic communications network.
This shows how legislation originally intended to stop harassment of people using telephones, had been used to curtail freedom of speech, thankfully the pastor was found not guilty of the offenses. I wonder would the outcome have been the same had he been charged with the offenses under the new hate speech legislation that is being used so readily on the main land.
Sadly, many people are getting dragged into the net of the ever expanding “Hate speech” industry. Most of the people who have been charged and imprisoned are so called “right wing” activists in the last couple of years we have seen prominent activists dragged before the courts and imprisoned for what they have said and not what they did, Tommy Robison is the highest profile person to suffer such a fate but many other less well known activist’s have been dragged before the courts, to face our later day inquisitors.
As well as the onslaught against freedom of speech by the state the mainstream media has demonised any who stand against the current PC orthodoxy, the very people who have the most too loose if freedom of speech is taken away (journalists) have become the advocates of silencing dissent. Social media platforms which for a short time were champions of free speech have become some of the most censorious mediums on the planet, fb and twitter have been going way beyond government legislation in their quest for weeding out the “Haters”
Universities places where dissent and radicalism were once encouraged have become a cold house for free speech in recent years.
The threat to free speech in the West is real, it affects us all and many of us have felt the claws of the inquisitors both religious and secular dig into our flesh. So, what are we to do? How do we fight back?
We must stand with those who are persecuted for what they say, whether we agree with them or not, we must be brave and speak our minds no matter the cost, we must elect political leaders who will stand boldly for the freedoms that our forefathers fought and bled for and we must never allow government to silence the dissenting and dissident voices.
Written by: Richard Inman