19 thoughts on “Is Free Speech Dead in Britain?

  1. 10. Freedom of Religion

    As we have seen, Isaiah Berlin understood that not all human values are compatible with one another, and different values will inevitably clash at the level of civilisations, cultures, groups and individuals. 1 The very notion that there is a final solution to the question of how people ought to live together is incoherent, since values and doctrines conflict in this way. 2 Nowhere is this felt more keenly than in the area of religion.

    The doctrines of Islam, for instance, are incompatible with the doctrines of Mormonism because they claim that Mohammed was the last prophet and if that is true, then Joseph Smith and every Mormon prophet who came after him were not prophets at all, and every word they wrote was a lie. The doctrines of Islam are also incompatible with those of mainstream Christianity because Islam denies the crucifixion, denies the resurrection and denies the divinity of Jesus. 3 The idea that all religions are the same is an intellectual error of the first magnitude. You cannot possibly believe in different religions, you can only believe in one.

    And if you don’t believe in a particular religion’s truth claims, then you have the right to change your own religious beliefs. 4 This is not subject to any limitations whatsoever by the state. The internal dimension of an individual’s religious beliefs, the forum internum, has absolute protection under international human rights law. 5

    As John Stuart Mill wrote in On Liberty, having access to arguments that challenge your current beliefs gives you an opportunity to change those beliefs. 6 So having access to books or articles that criticise your religious beliefs (whatever they may be) gives you the opportunity to exercise your right to freedom of religion or belief.

    It follows that the state cannot deny anyone access to books or articles that are critical of any religious doctrines and practices without denying that individual the right to freedom of religion or belief.

    As the UN Special Rapporteur has clearly stated, no one has the right to have religious beliefs that are free from robust examination and criticism 7 , because human rights legislation only protects individuals, not abstract concepts such as religious beliefs. 8 This means that the doctrines and practices of all religions, without exception, can be scrutinized, openly debated and harshly criticized. 9

    McKay, KD (2014-07-31). Spiritual Warfare at Street Level (Kindle Locations 561-580). . Kindle Edition.

  2. cont …

    John Stuart Mill advised his readers to pay close attention to what other people hold to be true, otherwise their own beliefs could lose their vitality and force and become no more than dead dogma. 10 Mill described how Cicero, for example , would study his opponents ‘ cases more thoroughly than his own, until he knew he would prevail against that opponent if put to the test. 11

    If Christians want to take Mill’s advice, then they need to scrutinize and debate the doctrines and practices of other religions as vigorously as the ‘new atheists’ have tested their own faith. As the UN Special Rapporteur has said, everyone has the freedom to seek, receive and impart information of all kinds either orally, in writing or in print. 12 So Christian authors can write about their religious beliefs and give their opinions about religious matters in print and online. Their intent may be to address fellow believers who have a good understanding of Mill’s arguments in On Liberty, but if anyone else chooses to access one of their articles, then their writing could unintentionally function as what human rights law calls ‘missionary work’. 13

    It is settled law that the right to freedom of religion or belief includes the right to try to non-coercively persuade other people to convert from one religion to another. 14 In order to persuade someone to change their mind about the truth value of their current religious beliefs, two types of argument can be employed. You can argue that your own religious beliefs are correct, and you can argue that their religious beliefs are wrong. It follows that Christian literature which argues for the truth claims of Christianity and scrutinizes and criticizes the doctrines and practices of other religions is protected by international human rights law.

    According to the United Nations Special Rapporteur, the state has a positive obligation to ensure that such literature is freely available, so that everyone living in the United Kingdom has the opportunity to exercise their right to freedom of religion by changing their religious beliefs. 15

    If anyone who chooses to become a Christian is subjected to harassment or even violence by non-state actors from within their previous religious communities or social environment, then the British state is obliged to protect them, and bring to justice those who seek to violate their human rights . 16 The Special Rapporteur has stated that it is not possible to conceive of a state showing genuine respect for human dignity unless everyone on its territory and under its jurisdiction has the right to freedom of religion. 17

    That means that everyone in the UK must be free to scrutinize, debate and criticize the doctrines and practices of all religions, without exception. 18

    McKay, KD (2014-07-31). Spiritual Warfare at Street Level (Kindle Locations 580-601). . Kindle Edition.

    That would be my take on things anyway. References are available in the book. They are encoded into the text as hyperlinks, so you just can tap on your screen as you’re reading the book if you want to read the relevant legal documents. (Some of the legal points laid down in European law are very useful to know about – for people in our position.)

    • Is Free Speech Dead in Britain? Yes.

      The curtailment of expressing opinions is not happening at a level where a well constructed counter argument for free speech can be rehearsed. Before a person even gets to the point of defending his utterances he is criminalised and purged by the conditioned society.

      Why did the Pastor who described islam as satanic feel obliged to go to a police station and apologise to a random policeman who was probably ignorant of the context of his utterances, how absurd is that in a society that claims the prize of free speech?

      The bludgeoning of free speech in the UK works at a brutal and base level, a crass level where even a beautifully reasoned argument for free speech offers no defence.

  3. Let’s see if I can draw this out a little:

    Premise 1. Changing your religious beliefs is part of your right to freedom of religion or belief.

    This is well established in human rights law. Using the links provided in the aforementioned book:

    46. The Special Rapporteur notes that, according to universally accepted
    international standards, the right to freedom of religion or belief includes the right
    to adopt a religion of one’s choice, the right to change religion and the right to
    maintain a religion. She also notes that these aspects of the right to freedom of
    religion or belief have an absolute character and are not subject to any limitation

    48. The content of article 18, paragraph 1, of the International Covenant on Civil
    and Political Rights (ICCPR) is the result of a lengthy process of discussion in the
    Human Rights Commission and the third Committee of the General Assembly. The
    wording initially proposed was “Everyone should have the freedom to maintain or to
    change his religion”, but, following opposition by some countries which feared that
    this formulation would lend encouragement to proselytism and anti-religious
    propaganda, it was changed to “have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice”, a
    wording that was adopted without dissent. This final version of the provision was
    undoubtedly intended to include the right to convert from one religion or belief to
    another. The Human Rights Committee, in paragraph 5 of its general comment No.
    22 (1993) on article 18, observed that “the freedom to ‘have or to adopt’ a religion
    or belief necessarily entails the freedom to choose a religion or belief, including the
    right to replace one’s current religion or belief with another or to adopt atheistic
    views, as well as the right to retain one’s religion or belief.”

    (Jahangir, A. Elimination of all forms of religious intolerance, UN General Assembly, 60th Session, A/ 60/ 399, September 30th 2005, paragraphs 46 & 48.)

  4. There is no such thing as “free” speech. You fight for it or you lose it. It seems the muslim fifth column weeds are entertained and encouraged in their racist and primitive rant for the debasement of life. Nobody rides free. Being cowed and afraid to teach our children about the evil that is Islam is costing us dearly. (And it gets worse – much worse I imagine.)

  5. Premise 2. Having access to books and online articles which criticize your current religious beliefs gives you the opportunity to change your religious beliefs.

    Again using links from the aforementioned book:

    When we consider either the history of opinion, or the ordinary conduct of human life, to what is it to be ascribed that the one and the other are no worse than they are? Not certainly to the inherent force of the human understanding; for, on any matter not self-evident, there are ninety-nine persons totally incapable of judging of it, for one who is capable; and the capacity of the hundredth person is only comparative; for the majority of the eminent men of every past generation held many opinions now known to be erroneous, and did or approved numerous things which no one will now justify. Why is it, then, that there is on the whole a preponderance among mankind of rational opinions and rational conduct? If there really is this preponderance – which there must be unless human affairs are, and have always been, in an almost desperate state – it is owing to a quality of the human mind, the source of everything respectable in man either as an intellectual or as a moral being, namely, that his errors are corrigible. He is capable of rectifying his mistakes, by discussion and experience. Not by experience alone. There must be discussion, to show how experience is to be interpreted. Wrong opinions and practices gradually yield to fact and argument: but facts and arguments, to produce any effect on the mind, must be brought before it. Very few facts are able to tell their own story, without comments to bring out their meaning. The whole strength and value, then, of human judgment, depending on the one property, that it can be set right when it is wrong, reliance can be placed on it only when the means of setting it right are kept constantly at hand. In the case of any person whose judgment is really deserving of confidence, how has it become so? Because he has kept his mind open to criticism of his opinions and conduct. Because it has been his practice to listen to all that could be said against him; to profit by as much of it as was just, and expound to himself, and upon occasion to others, the fallacy of what was fallacious. Because he has felt, that the only way in which a human being can make some approach to knowing the whole of a subject, is by hearing what can be said about it by persons of every variety of opinion, and studying all modes in which it can be looked at by every character of mind. No wise man ever acquired his wisdom in any mode but this; nor is it in the nature of human intellect to become wise in any other manner.

    Mill, John Stuart (2006-08-31). On Liberty and the Subjection of Women (Penguin Classics) (pp. 26-27). Penguin UK. Kindle Edition.

  6. Let’s take a brief journey into the world of logic. Categorical syllogisms have several valid forms, one of which is AAA-1 (Barbara, as the mnemonic has it.) A universal affirmative proposition (an “A” proposition) followed by another can lead to a universal affirmative conclusion, if the following form is adopted:

    All M are P
    All S are M
    (Therefore) All S are P.

    So we have:

    Premise 1: Being able to change your religious beliefs is part of your human right to freedom of religion or belief.
    Premise 2: Having access to books or articles which criticize your current religious beliefs gives you the opportunity to change your religious beliefs.
    Conclusion: Having access to books or articles which criticize your current religious beliefs give you the opportunity to exercise your right to freedom of religion or belief.

    One could say then, that by denying the non-Islamic British public the ability to criticize Islamic doctrines and practices, people living in the UK who have been brought up to see themselves as Muslims are being denied their right to freedom of religion or belief.

  7. I believe we need to start making these sorts of arguments now. For too long we have remained on the back foot whenever the “Communazis” have started yelling at us for daring to question official doctrines. Well it’s about time we gave them something to think about & tried to put them on the back foot for a change. If that takes a bit of lateral thinking by an ex-engineer with a philosophy degree, so be it!

    Right, I’m away to put the kettle on.

  8. Why so many points to backup a simple thing: freedom of speech? No justification in fact is needed to have freedom. The only thing which is needed is the will to exercise and protect freedom. Europe lacks this will and the future is grim.

  9. It’s not quite clear on the video (ff 1:05) but it appears that the statue of Sir. Winston Churchill is perched upon a fairly large white cement or stone base – with a clear slate, so to speak. What would it take to have this quote plastered upon that base?

  10. Nick, Thank you for this. I would not disagree with anything you have written. The only problem the state has is enforcing any view that is contrary to the leftist template or islamic dogma, largely because they do not have the will to do so.

    • Thanks, guys. Feel free to use that argument, to develop it, firm it up, anything you want. There are plenty of useful references in that little kindle book, and you can find graphics to support the argument all over the internet. I’ve spent some time on that one, and I think the argument works.

  11. We have never had free speech in the U.K. to the degree that those in America do. The difference today is that there is a lot of self-censorship, due to people being frightened of losing jobs, the effect on their career prospects or on their family. If they say or write something in the public sphere which could be deemed to be “racist”; “homophobic” or make them to appear be an “islamaphobe”. You need to have a hide like a rhinoceros and that’s without falling foul of the “hate speech” legislation.

  12. Is Free Speech dead in the land that brought us Magna Carta? Yes, more’s the shame.

  13. Dead maybe, but not for muslims. I have seen anjem chaudhary use his rights of free speech to attack the UK, the US, Hindus, and everything else “infidel” very adroitly.

    But then muslims are always above the law—right from the time of their perverted prophet Mo, who used the tolerance of the Meccans to attack their religions, and was never dealt with the way Islam deals with its critics. I wish the Meccans had not been so tolerant, and simply killed Mohammed. Would have saved the world so much trouble.

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