Illustration for the Website: Another World Is Possible...
"Prevent The Free Expression" - Paulo Zerbato/2011
"Thought Crime" Infiltrates Britain
by Roy Ratcliffe
During 2005 in Britain, a group of influential writers published a book entitled ‘Free Expression is No Offence’. It was published by PEN, an organisation which declared it;; ‘champions freedom of expression everywhere and the right of writers, artists and indeed anyone to say whatever they feel without fear of persecution or penalty‘. The editors and contributors to this volume, were energised to put pen to paper in order to defend the hard won enlightenment right to free speech. The catalyst for their essays was a government proposal to restrict criticism of religious forms of belief. The government were at the planning stage of creating an offence of ‘Incitement to religious hatred‘. More recently, in August 2011, two young men were convicted and jailed for suggesting on face book that a riot should take place. A riot did not take place and the two youngsters in question did not turn up at the proposed venue. No crime had actually been committed except a newly contrived crime of thinking and writing words someone didn‘t like.
So something is happening to the principle of free expression in the UK. In the 21st century, the ‘establishment’ in England (right wing and liberal) had clearly lost its grip on the economy and now seemed bent on losing its grip on rationality. Not two months after the above ‘reactionary’ punishment, apparently a solidarity movement in the UK decided to refuse its members the right to think or say anything which denied any aspect of the received Holocaust’ narrative or diminish the importance of it. Let me declare my own position on this insidious and dangerous precedent of outlawing free expression. I have taught holocaust studies and that I think those who deny the main outlines of the genocide perpetrated against Jews, Socialists, Trade Unionists, gypsies, Slavs and Jehovah’s Witnesses by the Nazi’s are wrong. However, although I may disagree with everything such revisionist writers suggest, I will defend, and others also ought to defend, their right to express their views. Why? Because to turn the clock back to previous centuries of mind control where those in power decide what is acceptable and what is to be outlawed and criminalised, is a far more retrograde step than the expression of any view considered offensive, by no matter whom. Let me explain why I think this might be so.
Illustration: "Prevent the Free Expression". Digital Art by Paulo Zerbato
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