THE LAST DITCH An Englishman returned after twenty years abroad blogs about liberty in Britain
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The limits of law

Free speech

Is this what our law has come to?

A Muslim extremist linked to Woolwich killer Michael Adebowale was jailed for five years and four months today (Weds) for glorifying the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby in a series of YouTube videos. Royal Barnes, 23, was filmed by his veiled wife Rebekah Dawson, 22, laughing hysterically as he drove past the scene of the attack. Dawson, who has caused nationwide controversy by refusing to remove her niqab in court, was jailed for one year and eight months. The couple ridiculed the memorial flowers left by friends, family and members of the public for Drummer Rigby and Barnes described the murder as 'absolutely brilliant'. Dawson also boasted in a text to a friend: 'Did you watch it? It was really inciting and almost glorifying lol.'

Two young idiots upload stupid films to YouTube. They express primitive, ignorant, violent opinions. Opinions rather like those expressed by revolutionary socialists every single day (but with far less chance of influencing anyone).

Did their childish, ignorant words represent a threat? If so, then we are a feeble society too decadent to deserve survival. This is using the sledgehammer of the criminal law to crack something that merited the toffee hammer of an Anglo-Saxon imprecation at best.

These idiots are pathetic, yes. But so are we for having nothing better to do with the hard-earned money taken by force from decent people than to pay policemen, lawyers, judges and prison officers to deal with them. And for not understanding that it's better to hear dangerous opinions and know where threats may come from than to drive them underground.


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Dear Mr Paine

So no more Che Guevara posters and t-shirts then.


Schrodinger's Dog


I was wondering whether you’d pick up this one.

One the one hand, I despair.

The link you provided isn’t specific, but the length of the sentence handed down makes me assume this was a jury trial. So presumably the jury was OK with convicting these people for the opinions they expressed and nothing more, as well as OK with them being sent to prison for five years in consequence.

Judging from the lack of coverage elsewhere in the media, most other people seem OK with it too. I’ve not read any thundering editorials equating the sentence with what used to happen in the Soviet Union, that something similar happening in the UK is nothing short of a disgrace. Indeed, I only heard about it because of a commenter on another libertarian website.

At times like this I feel libertarians have completely lost the argument. People like big government; they like free money and free stuff. They like the idea that someone will take care of them. They may not like government’s increasingly bossy and authoritarian nature, but they seem to accept it. Sort of like how children do not like being punished for being naughty by a parent, but are happy so long as the lollipops keep coming.

And yet, and yet …

On the other hand there was a furore last week when the leadership of a mosque in Birmingham refused to allow a discussion about gays and Islam. Perhaps there still is a constituency which believes in free speech. A lot of bloggers seem to think so, while Mark Steyn has done some truly sterling work in this area. Is it possible for the libertarian bloggers, like yourself, to get together and form a society promoting free speech, with no ifs, no buts and no maybes.


The state of free speech elsewhere in the world:

It is quite long, and I suspect not quite to the taste of a genteel UK population, nevertheless the proponents have succeeded in reining in an egregious "human rights" law in Canada and Steyn is now taking on the global warming scam in the US courts.

Take-away point, every individual is entitled to speak freely provided he has a large bankroll to fight his way through the courts. The extortionate process is now the punishment meted out on free citizens by our governments.

Not that it benefits me in any way, but you might consider buying a copy of Mark Steyn's books to support his case against Michael Mann.


In Britain, you get a longer sentence for saying something than you do for killing someone. I've yet to meet anyone who thinks this is a good idea... and yet it keeps happening?
What is going on?

james higham



There was recently a report in the Torygraph of a speech by Lord Justice Neuberger in which he said that no one has the right not to be offended.
I haven't seen a copy of the speech so don't know if it is correctly reported, however Neuberger always gave commonsense advice when at the Bar.
His own family was, of course, driven out of Germany in the 30s, so no doubt the right to free speech is much prized, rather than taken for granted.


What has changed is that the state has taken the role of choosing and discriminating from the individual. Individuals are no longer allowed to exercise their own judgement in these matters. The state does it for each one of us. I'm not sure how this happened, but it did.


Couldn't have put it better myself!


We used to be famous for being a tolerant society but the nanny state has changed that to now being an intolerant one. The state especially no longer tolerates any views or expressions that are contrary to the politically correct ones as defined by bansturbaters, righteous bleeding heart do gooders, environmentalists, ayatollah puritans, all the other assorted left wing loons, vested interest groups, bureaucrats (domestic and now even more EU ones) and fake charities.

Surreptitious Evil

Serving military.

That is utterly insane and a perversion of what we used to regard as British justice.

I may vehemently disapprove of the git's opinion but, well, as Longrider said - we've lost something.


Disappointing that we have come to this, but not surprised


Yes. This is what we have come to and yes, free speech has died in the UK. The only speech allowed is that which is deemed "acceptable". In other words, inoffensive to everyone. We lost something along the way this past few decades and now have a society that does not comprehend the significance of "I disagree with everything you say, but defend to the death your right to say it".

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