Saturday, October 17, 2009

Freedom of speech? Only when it suits.

Bloggers and Twitterers were quite proud of themselves (rightly so) when they went into overdrive over the Carter Ruck/Trafigura-Grauniad scandal. Eventually those who opposed freedom of speech were forced into a humiliating climbdown. All was good in the world and a warm glow was felt in all those who championed the right to hear what was said even if the party involved didn't like it.
Well the halo slipped quite a bit over the last few days. Jan Moirs article in the Daily Mail sent several Twitterers and bloggers into overdrive because she said something they didn't like, pointing out some details over the death of Stephen Gately and the possibility that his relationship was anything but natural.
Well there's apparently a heavy price to be paid for crossing the Pink Mafia and their politically correct chums, Marks and Spencer don't want their ads shown with the article in question and no doubt they are not alone. A massive twitter campaign lead by Steven Fry and Derren Brown (who have thousands of followers) has caused thousands of complaints of homophobia to be sent to the Press complaints committee. All this for a woman who had the temerity to point out that Gately and partner got legless, picked up some guy, took him home, Gately was so drunk he put on his pyjamas and slept on a couch whilst partner and stranger went up to their bed. She's being castigated for pointing out that in a normal marriage this would not be seen as normal behaviour (save in a few open relationships)

Harry's Place sums it up succinctly on their blog banner "Liberty if it means anything, is the right to tell people what they don't want to hear."

The sheer hypocrisy of this campaign against Moir offends me, not because I agree with what she has to say (though she made a few damned good points) but because certain pressure groups have decided to shut her up for saying it. A couple of days ago the blogs were full of articles describing how ‘Twitter’ was used against Carter-Ruck to defend free speech, today from my point of view, ‘Twitter’ is being used to silence free speech.

Fine, attack Moir over what she said, but don't ever move to have her silenced, that is a very slippery slope, one which we're already far too far down.

7 annotations:

James Higham said...

Hear hear! Completely right and I'll my tuppence halfpenny later too. Well said, QM.

Longrider said...

Yes, it's the "shutting up" that crosses the line.
Freedom of speech also means allowing opinions that you find vile to be aired.

Anonymous said...

I found her article a mish mash of innuendos, inaccurate reporting and disgusting. And I'm a married women with two children.

Journalists have the right to be heard, but we have the right to be offended when offerened nothing but salicious gossip - and that MY right of free speech.

Apparantly you also don't like it when it says something you don't like.

Longrider said...

Apparantly you also don't like it when it says something you don't like.

Er, actually, no. The opposite is true. What the author is saying (and I agree entirely with him)is that trying to silence Moir is what is wrong, not criticising her - that's perfectly fine. That is free speech in action.

As for being offended - there is no right not to be offended. Grow a thicker skin. That, too, is a consequence of free speech.

Quiet_Man said...

I may not agree with what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it.

Evelyn Beatrice Hall, writing under the pseudonym of Stephen G Tallentyre in "The Friends of Voltaire" (1906)

You have every right to be offended by Moir, but you have no right to call for them to be silenced.

scunnert said...

Far too much "shutting up" going on.

Anna Raccoon said...

I blogged from the same viewpoint yesterday morning Quiet Man.

http://www.annaraccoon.com/media/the-pink-princess/

The battle is still raging over at my place. I gather that other bloggers have joined the battle to silence Jan Moir.

Longrider has summed it up - criticise Jan Moir by all means, but mobilising Twitter to seek to silence her, jsut a day after the jubilant celebrations at Twitter being used to ensure Free Speech, is just hypocrisy.