Sunday, March 20, 2011

The price of freedom

Wooton Bassett, soon to be renamed Royal Wooton Bassett honours our war dead by the people giving a simple silent roadside vigil as the bodies of soldiers killed in Afghanistan and Iraq return home. It's not that they approve of the wars, it's not jingoism, simply respect for those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of this country. It's quite moving and genuine, which is why some people hate it and loathe the very idea of it.

A cartoon mocking Wootton Bassett's tributes to dead soldiers has been condemned by senior Conservative and Labour politicians.
After the Queen honoured the town by renaming it Royal Wootton Bassett, the Guardian cartoonist Steve Bell wrote in a cartoon: "Welcome to Royal Wootton Deathfest."
His cartoon also said the town is "not twinned with Fallujah", a reference to the Iraqi town where US forces were accused of killing civilians.
The town's residents have been widely praised for their silent roadside vigils as the bodies of soldiers killed in Afghanistan and Iraq return home.
Defence Secretary Liam Fox told the Sun: "It's tasteless and offensive. It shows a total lack of respect for our fallen.
"It's cowardly and bad taste which stands in stark contrast to the pride of the people of Royal Wootton Bassett."
A spokesman for Labour leader Ed Miliband told the paper: "There is no doubt that to the vast majority of people in country, Wootton Bassett deserves its Royal designation.
"It should be a matter for some pride and should not be denigrated in this way."
Many Guardian readers praised Bell's cartoon on the paper's website.
Cartoon and comments can be viewed here.

Now Steve Bell and the Guardianistas are perfectly entitled to their opinions on the wars being fought, indeed as is often pointed out men (and women) fought and died so they can do this sort of thing. However as for the attack on the people of Wooton Bassett, well yes they have that right too, though in this case they make themselves out to be petty, ignorant and spiteful though again this is the level to which the left have sunk recently so it doesn't surprise me.
However a quick scan through the comments and you see the calls for this sort of thing to be classed as treason.
Posted by: Oh Polemic on March 18, 2011 8:49 AM
Traitor. A person who betrays their own nation, family, friends, ethnic group, team, religion, social class, or other group to which they may belong.

Treason. A citizen's actions to help a foreign government overthrow, make war against, or seriously injure the nation.

Steve Bell, also his editor Alan Rusbridger, might both be wise to note that whilst the Death Penalty in Britain for murder was repealed in 1969 it nonetheless actually remained on the statute books for the offence of Treason until 1998.

My comment is not a joke.
Which it clearly isn't, crass certainly, sick, yes, treasonous, no. Steve Bell is a political cartoonist and political comment in the UK by cartoon has its roots back to the days of Hogarth and beyond to the pamphleteers of the English civil war. He has the right to try and make a point this way, just as we have the right to tell him, not funny at all mate. What we don't try to do is get him and the Guardianistas locked up or accused of treason or even have Steve Bell sacked as some have called for.
The only things that can and should be done is for those who don't like itis to comment back in the Guardian or boycott the paper, though the way things are going with the Guardians finances I doubt it can survive that long, particularly if the government were to take away its almost total monopoly on government job offers, something the Government seems loathe to do admittedly.
So yes Steve bell has the right as it were to have his view and have it printed, but equally he also has the right to be criticised for an unwarranted attack on the people of Wooton Bassett. What shouldn't happen is that he be silenced in any way, that's a slippery slope we have already gone far too far down with, by various governments already.

2 annotations:

English Pensioner said...

To me, this is just as offensive as the burning of poppies by Islamists on Armistice Day. Surely he should be charged under the same section of the Public Order Legislation (Causing Alarm and Offence to bystanders).

James Higham said...

That's a really tricky one. With those Muslims doing dirt on the town, that's one thing but when our own do it? Jury's out.