THE LAST DITCH An Englishman returned after twenty years abroad blogs about liberty in Britain
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God save the mark...

The media are all over this story, understandably. Columnists and bloggers are opining right and left. To me, the most interesting aspect is that no-one can mention the BNP (even classical liberals or right-wingers who could not possibly be suspected of sympathy with that party's ultra-left command economy policies) without disassociating themselves. Every comment that BNP members have the right to hold and express their opinions is hastily followed by some piety like "...however odious those opinions are..." The phrases used are ritualistic. It rather reminds me of superstitious people averting the evil eye. It is not how free men should go  about their business.

250px-HorseshoeWhat are these people afraid of? Do they fear that some future political policeman will find a published record of sympathetic words for enemies of the state? Without even introducing formal censorship, has the left-liberal establishment succeeded in putting a chill on freedom of thought and expression? Surely not.  After all, no-one feels the need to utter ritual phrases when writing about people who have done more harm than the BNP will ever have chance to do; e.g. Marx, Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Guevara or Castro. For that matter, if I comment that a Communist or an Islamist is entitled to his opinions, I don't feel the need parenthetically to say that I think said opinions are evil and/or nonsensical. Freedom of speech is only really an issue when the opinions expressed are unorthodox or controversial. Your right to say "Nice day, isn't it?" was not much under threat even at freedom's lowest point in the great totalitarian regimes of the 20th Century.

In fairness, many have written in this context that it is wrong to punish people for holiding or expressing political opinions. Many have written that employers, public and private, have no right to set permitted parameters to their employees thoughts. I just want to be the first to say so (as I hereby do) without uttering the modern equivalent of "God save the mark!"