- Protect our Basic Freedoms & Rights
Defend Freedom of Speech
***UPDATED SEPT 2022***
In recent days we have seen several small protests surrounding the Royal family. Regardless of your political position on our Monarchy, the middle of a mourning period for our Queen is neither the time nor the place for such cheap statements. I understand the opportunity that such events provide, a large audience, media coverage etc. but it lacks grace, style, decorum and decency to attempt to hijack an event to promote your own message.
Several protestors have been moved on, several protected from an angry public. While their opinions might not chime with the vast majority who have taken to the streets to honour our Queen, they do have a fundamental basic right to protest. That right is inviolate. We should fight for their right to protest in the UK. Regardless of whether or not we agree with their position or not.
What would happen if the day comes when you want to protest and you are moved on, arrested or silenced?
We have also seen a Barrister, who by way of a social experiment went to protest outside the Houses of Parliament with a blank white placard. He was subsequently spoken to by the police because of what he might or might not write on his blank white placard. We are, as a country entering ‘thought police’ territory.
I understand removing people with swear words on their placards. If you can’t express yourself without swearing then you should learn how to. Not swearing is more powerful than swearing which, only serves to highlight your own linguistic shortcomings.
If a man can be questioned by police officers for carrying a blank white placard because of what he might write on it, then we are surely only a short hop, skip and a jump from banning certain people from using social media, running a website, writing a book, magazine etc.
We have already seen social media companies throttle the exposure of posts and accounts that were deemed undesirable. We have spin doctors renamed as ‘fact checkers’ working to dilute any message that questions the official narrative.
If you are not allowed to question the science then it is not science. If you are not permitted to voice dissenting opinions then you do not live in a democracy. If you are not allowed to speak freely, you live under tyranny.
“You cannot challenge what we said today”, because it’s the science. “You cannot hold us accountable for what we said yesterday because the science has changed”… Still the science.
We are heading into murky waters and I fear for where we will end up if we don’t change direction.
The newly enacted Policing Protest Laws have a huge impact on our civil liberties. Police have new powers to limit the location of a protest, the amount of people allowed to attend and the duration of the protest. Potentially this effectively gives police the powers to cancel any demonstration that isn’t desirable.
Freedom of Speech is becoming an illusion. In tandem with our rights come responsibilities. I accept the need to prevent green agenda lunatics from gluing themselves to motorways. I am not sure what it achieves apart from to inconvenience more people and thus create more people who are against their end goals. But, it those same lunatics were only permitted to protest in a field out of the way then no one would ever know that they were protesting.
We are heading for a time when the only permitted protest will be 10 people on College Green outside Parliament, held in silence, between 12pm and 2pm. Is that where we want to be as a country?
Freedom of speech is under attack. In the last couple of decades we have seen communication transform before our eyes. Not only have we seen the internet grow and florish, but mobile communication has been revolutionised by smart phones.
Along with this new found connectivity we have seen a massive growth in censorship, cancelling and restriction on our freedom of speech.
Only recently (July 2022) police visited a 51 year old man for the crime of retweeting a post from Lawrence Fox which someone then reported as ‘causing anxiety’. Harry Miller from FairCop was present and was then arrested. Lawrence Fox was also present, filmed the events as they unravelled but wasn’t harassed for his initial tweet. The behaviour of Hampshire police makes no sense. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-11063507/Police-force-savaged-crime-commissioner-arrest-army-veteran.html
We all have the right to freedom of speech. At least we think we do. We are however facing increasing restrictions on those freedoms.
In recent years we have seen the President of the United States banned from Twitter. Whether or not you agree with Donald Trump, his policies, what he stands for etc. is not important, the fact that he, as sitting President of the most powerful country on Earth can be effectively silenced on social media should cause you alarm. If they can silence him at the press of a button, what chance do the rest of us stand? (Currently, Putin as well as Taliban leaders are active on Twitter, just for context).
There are some very powerful people in control of some of the largest communications tools & any one of us can be cancelled at any time if what we say doesn’t fit with their narrative. I find that quite concerning.
I am not advocating being free to abuse, defame, insult. I am not trying to protect trolls so they can ‘pile on’ whoever they disagree with.
I am talking about not being able to question the science. Science is not absolute, never has been, never will be. Not so long ago, April 13th 1932 in fact, science was adamant that the ‘Atom’ was the smallest thing on earth. This was a scientific absolute, unquestionable fact.
Then, on April 14th 1932, Cockcroft and Walton split the atom and a whole mess of crap fell out, changing that scientific fact forever.
My point is, science changes and the very act of using the phrase “we are following the science” is in itself meaningless. What the UK Government meant by that statement was, “We have selected some scientists that agree with what we want them to agree with & we will be using them as an absolute arbiter of fact”.
At this point, anyone who questioned the science was labelled an ‘Anti-vaxxer’. This label was used to divide anyone who wasn’t a true believer from those that were. The term is used to silence opposition, stifle debate, stop the conversation.
There is a very valid reason why most new medications take a decade to come to market. It’s because you can’t shorthand 5 or 10 years of long term data. No matter how you safety test a product, you can’t replicate the passing of time. There is no way of knowing what a medication is going to do to a patient until 5 years has passed and even then, you don’t know what it will do after 10 years.
Having said that, I totally understand the need for a vaccine as fast as we could to protect the vulnerable. If you have prexisting comorbidities and are 75+ it would be in your best interest to take the covid jab as soon as you could. The possible effect of the jab on you in 5 or 10 years is of much less importance.
My issue came when the age range started dropping. Here is my view on covid vaccination, for the record. I did my own risk assessment. I was 53 at the time, no underlying health issues, drink a bit, smoke a bit, not overweight. My risk of dying from covid was minute. My chance of surviving was 99.8%+ . For me, I couldn’t see an upside to taking the jab. It isn’t going to improve my chance of survival, but I might suffer side effects, myocarditis, etc. So, no upsides but potential downsides. Why would I take it knowing that?
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I know that there have been a few people who didn’t have underlying conditions who died from Covid and it goes without saying (as everyone is obliged to do these days) that is very sad for all involved. I did some early research and 75% of hospitalisations were overweight and lacking in vitamin D. While I am not especially fit, I’m not overweight and do walk our dogs a few miles every day, so made sure to take a large vitamin D dose every day.
For the first few months of covid I was shopping for my mother, delivering everything she needed, leaving it by her front door and keeping my distance. She wasn’t going out or mixing with others and I made sure she remained safe throughout.
In my mind I have mitigated the risk where I could.
All this and I feel the need to explain a free decision, still protected by the Nuremberg Code as far as I know.
Which brings me back to freedom of speech. We should be free to speak freely. While writing this I am spending as much effort wondering how it might be interpreted the wrong way as I am on the actual content.
We all have different opinions, we used to be able to do that without name calling, without sinking to calling each other Nazi’s, Fascists, etc. When did we sink so low?
Maybe half the problem is that people feel less inhibited and vent their true feelings online, in the safety of their home.
If you aren’t a believer of the follow the science narrative, you will I suspect at some point have seen a warning similar to this online.
The modern day equivalent of censorship, just question the integrity of a post or piece online. Much of the content originally labelled as misinformation by Twitter, Facebook etc. has since been confirmed to be anything but misinformation.
When the inventor of mRNA vaccine technology is labelled as such for disagreeing with Governments around the world it should at least wave a red flag that something is up. Disagreeing with a Government has become misinformation. In an age when politicians have never been held in lower esteem, attempting to force their narrative using such crude devices is clumsy to say the least.
My point is, that it is difficult to know what is an actual true fact, what is what your Government want you to believe and what is made up.
Even the supposed fact checkers are open to question. What makes a fact checker the undisputed arbiter of truth? Who is the definitive judge and jury of unequivocal fact?
Somewhere in among all of the crazy, the name calling, the pile-ons and the abuse, we need to find a way forwards. A way whereby we can protect people from online abuse while also protecting freedom of speech.
Any censorship by definition becomes a limitation on free speech. Understanding the online world is taking some time.
Blocking someone on social media is no different to walking away from them in the street if you no longer wish to speak to them. People need to understand that they can control much of their interaction online. If someone doesn’t want to listen to you they don’t have to follow you, they can block you etc.
No one should be able to spread hate, racism, etc. but we’ve reached the point in time where triple vaxxers are turning on the double vaxxers all because the Government ‘is following the science’.
While I often disagree with the opinions of others online, I would still defend their right to voice them.
The issue I believe is that nudge theory, the Governments favourite propaganda tool relies upon a level of compliance. It used to work more effectively before the internet, before smart phones. A Government could transmit its message across traditional media, knowing that it was the only information source available. Apart from a few people in pubs disagreeing with the messaging, no one could really question the narrative.
Today however, we can not only see other people question the message, we can connect with them. We realise we are not alone in our thoughts. It’s been an eye opener.
It has also highlighted just how much censorship we face. We couldn’t really see it before, but it’s quite easy to spot now.
Additionally, the Government’s Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill (Part 3) is threatening to restrict our right to peaceful protest. Another form of freedom of speech.
This Governments (and others around the world) solution to being questioned and disagreed with is to change the law to make disagreement harder. That isn’t freedom in any sense of the word.
Our government isn’t interested in protecting our freedoms, if you care about freedom of speech then you need to vote for a party that will stand up for and defend your rights. Vote Reform UK at the next General Election.