Should the government, any government that claims to be for freedom of speech openly advocate for the opposite simply because they happen to dislike a person, consider them a racist and a bigot? Before anyone answers, think about it as it may apply to you. You speak out on a subject the government would rather you didn’t. Maybe you’ve been arrested for just openly advocating for what you believe is true. I’m not saying that people who incite violence on others should not be prosecuted, but what about those that just say that something, whatever it is, is evil?
The characters in this story are few, but it’s the story itself that should shock the sensibilities of all of us who are concerned about keeping the right to free speech, even that speech that we may vehemently disagree with at times. Enter stage right (yes, I know) one Tommy Robinson, who I wrote about here. At the time I wrote that post, I really didn’t know much of anything about about him other than that he was being accused of breaking the law in England at the time. Since then, I’ve seen him described as a racist, bigot, Islamophobe, and well, choose whatever charged epithet that comes to mind; He’s been called them all.
Since that post, I have done a little research (very little) into him. I’ve even watched a couple of his videos. although I don’t necessarily agree with everything he says, mostly because of the way he says it, but I never saw anything that would lead me to believe he called for violence against anyone. As I said, my research was light, so maybe there are instances of just that. I do know that he’s been deplatformed on many sites, just as Alex Jones was, because it seems he’s too impolitic for those, our tech overlords.
Robinson still has a YouTube channel as of this writing, but YouTube decided to de-monetize his videos, even though they receive millions of views, purposefully denying income that they allow others who might be determined as controversial as Tommy Robinson, to thrive. But Tommy is the wrong type of controversial.
The other characters in this drama are just two: a CEO of one of the largest tech firms on the planet (if not the largest) and, you guessed it, a government official. The CEO is Sundar Pichai, of Google, and the government official is a Member of Parliament in the UK, Tom Watson. Mt Watson wrote the following letter to Mr. Pichai:
Notice that it’s a demand, from a government official, and elected representative of the the people, using hyperbole in making this demand.
The public interest is demanding an end to the laissez- faire approach to regulation not just in the UK but globally.
This to me is unconscionable. Luckily for we in the U.S. this could never happen because our right to free speech is in our Constitution. A document woefully absent in the UK. But then, could our government, a member of Congress, make a similar demand? It’s not out of the realm of possibility and then, who would stand up against such a violation of our freedoms? I wonder what those in the UK, having seen this letter, are thinking. Do they agree with this? Does the government in the UK in general agree with this Member of Parliament? Will Google accede to his demand? All questions that at this point there are no answers to. We’ll have to wait for the outcome. Personally, I hope Mr. Pichai ignores the demand.
If this doesn’t disturb you, it should. We should never ignore excesses like this from any government, or elected representative, no matter where. The letter reeks of authoritarianism and is something no one should tolerate.