Is Britain About to Restrict Free Speech?

So what in the world is going on in Britain?

I saw an article this morning from Reason Magazine that made me sit back and ask that question to myself.

It appears that the Home Secretary, Theresa May, wants to introduce legislation, rules, or something to prevent disruptive speech, if I understand correctly.

What this will mean is the government will be allowed, vicariously it appears, to decide what sort of speech is allowed. This is truly frightening even for someone that doesn’t live in the U.K. (don’t get any ideas, U.S.).

Here’s the story from BBC.

Another head banger is this from the BBC:

She got a standing ovation as she said “British values” would prevail in the end in the battle against extremism.

Someone tell me just what the heck are “British values”? As you read both stories though, especially the first, you’ll notice that the government wants powers not only on what you say, but what you post on Facebook, tweet, etc. Anything denigrating to another person or group will come under scrutiny and if found in violation (again, it appears to be a subjective standard) the person or group will be issued an Extremism Disruption Order (EDO) that will prevent said person or group from speaking/writing anything without first receiving a license from the government. A license from the government to speak.

Here’s a bit more from the Reason story:

So you won’t have to incite violence to be labelled an extremist —in May’s words, these extremism-disrupting orders will go “beyond terrorism.” May says far-right activists and Islamist hotheads who have not committed any crime or incited violence could be served with an order to shut the hell up. She has also talked about people who think “a woman’s intellect [is] deficient”, or who have “denounced people on the basis of their religious beliefs”, or who have “rejected democracy”—these folk, too, could potentially be branded extremists and silenced. In short, it could become a crime punishable by gagging to be a sexist or a religion-hater or someone who despises democracy.

Those evil conservatives you say. Well maybe but Reason continues with this:

But self-styled progressives, members of the left and those who consider themselves liberal, don’t have much of a leg to stand on when it comes to challenging May’s tyrannical proposals. For it is was their own arguments, their claims over the past decade that “hate speech” is dangerous and must be controlled and curbed, that gave legitimacy to May’s vast silencing project, that inflamed the government’s belief that it has the right to police heated minds and not just heated behaviour.

Sometimes, we all get what we ask for but mostly, it doesn’t turn put to be exactly what we thought it might be.

2 thoughts on “Is Britain About to Restrict Free Speech?

  1. No, you don’t get to distract us from the fact that it is a conservative making this proposal. No progressive would interpret the arguments on behalf of hate-speech regulation as permitting or justifying what May has proposed. In fact, no progressive has made suggestions for such draconian measures. This one is entirely on the conservative who proposed it and the conservatives who support it.


  2. An excerpt from the article in Reason magazine:

    That is, you will effectively need a licence from the state to speak, to publish, even to tweet, just as writers and poets did in the 1600s before the licensing of the press was swept away and modern, enlightened Britain was born (or so we thought).

    Let’s not forget that it was progressive, not conservatives, of the time who brought enlightenment to Britain and swept away such restrictions on freedoms and liberty.


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