11 February 2009

Britain descends further into totalitarianism

Dutch parliamentarian banned from entering UK for holding political views about Islam that the UK government thinks will threaten its community harmony.

The news out of Britain just keeps getting worse. The Brits just don't seem to get the importance of human freedom anymore. Neither their government nor their media adequately understood quite what was at stake a couple of months ago when the Cabinet Office and the Speaker countenanced the Met's anti-terrorism squad raiding an Opposition immigration spokesman's office in Westminster over leaks of immigration statistics from the Home Office. And this latest outrage confirms that they truly have almost completely lost any sense of the value of freedom for their citizens.

The British Secretary of State for the Home Department (you'd think these people spoke English as a second language the way they label their government offices), via the British Embassy in the Netherlands, has advised Geert Wilders, a member of the Dutch legislature who was invited by a member of the House of Lords to give a presentation to the members of that House, that he will be "refused admission to the UK under regulation 19" of Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2006.

The justification for this government intervention to prevent the free passage of an EU citizen and a member of parliament is that:

"....your statements about Muslims and their beliefs, as expressed in your film Fitna and elsewhere, would threaten community harmony and therefore public security in the UK."

So it is now official. If you express views that are threatening to community harmony in the UK then the UK government will prevent you from entering the UK. Think about this for a moment. If a Canadian Wiccan warlock expresses the view on Oprah that the whole British Royal Family is under an inter-generational spell of secular materialist personal wealth aggregation which it is secretly propagating and promoting to the people through clever gamesmanship with the British media, and this expression outrages Royal loyalists and the Sun newspaper, then it is now fine for the UK government to prevent this warlock from entering the UK . The Secretary would find grounds that his entry "would threaten community harmony" in the UK because bovver boy Cockney lynch mobs would riot at the offence given to their Queen. What if a Czech English language pop group had say a big rap hit loudly declaring that all women were whores who craved a good rogering whether they knew it or not? When hundreds of women then picketed Westminster calling for the members of the band to be castrated, would this threat to community harmony allow the UK government to decline permission for the band to tour the UK?

What's happening to freedom and free speech with these developments? Which do you think is more important article 19 or regulation 19?

Here's article 19 of the UNESCO Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

"Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers".

Whatever you might quite legitimately think about Geert Wilder's politics and his film, how can you ban him from entering the UK on the grounds he might create disharmonies, if you believe in free speech?

I'm an Australian. I've lived and worked in the UK. I've expressed views about poms in pubs whilst there that any self respecting Brit should rightly have interpreted as promoting community disharmony in the UK. True to my stereotype, I've publicly uttered wilfully provocative opinions such as that all poms are a shallow bunch of trumped up pansies who are over susceptible to mawkish sentimentality and who always crack under the superficial pressure of the spectacular mood swings of the mob. Under this British Secretary of State's criteria all Australians like me who are minded to express such disharmonious views, are to be banned from entering the UK to reduce violence in their pubs. Maybe that's what the poms want. Fine. Just don't keep carrying on with all that self-righteous pretentious mush about Britain as a defender of human freedoms. Britain is now a social democratic dictatorship whose citizens are subjected to a collectivist tyranny of the majority.

I've watched the film Fitna on the web, courtesy of the marvellous British website Samizdata . Hey, the film doesn't pull its rhetorical punches, but it is only rhetoric after all. He's not advocating violence. Sure he deliberately quotes Muslin clerics and the words of the holy Koran in ways that many people would see as diminishing Islam for those with western perceptions. I'm sure some Muslims find this offensive. But so what? Some Brits find it offensive that I say they are mostly a bunch of sclerotic partially brain washed wankers who have betrayed democracy and freedom by enabling bureaucrats and moral scolds with megaphones to regulate and scrutinise their every action and allow them to pass official judgement on their very thoughts. Do my unharmonious and confronting views about miserable pommies warrant the UK government curtailing my indiscreet and impolitic speech by preventing me from entering the UK for fear of the pub brawls I might provoke?

Those bloody hypocritical pommy bastards. If you've ever been in an overcrowded urban pub in Britain you'll know what socially unharmonious and hostile places they can be. They are full of racists, bigots, chauvinists, royalists, republicans, atheists, Wickhamists, papists, traitors, Jacobites, pompous arses and alarmists of all stripes. And all of them are under the adverse influence of excess alcohol, speed or dope. Since when did it become a matter of community harmony to prevent a foreign parliamentarian from entering the UK because he might express views hostile to Islam in a debating chamber? Why aren't his potential expressions of unharmonious views to be treated with the same indifference or tolerance as all the other millions of offensive and hostile remarks made every day in all human societies. To the extent that it is clearly anticipated that British Muslims will over-react to the expression of his views hostile to Islam, then isn't it a matter for the British government to show its commitment to human freedom and protect his right to free speech under article 19? Surely if offended people threaten violence against a person for expressing offensive views, then if Britain wants to assert its support of human freedom and free speech, it is those who threaten the violence who should be sanctioned, not those who merely give offence.

The British once understood this. They oft times led the world in defining such fundamental freedoms. They bequeathed to our generation the free expressions of Sir Thomas More, Adam Smith, Edmund Burke, John Locke, David Hume, JS Mill, Bertram Russell and Winston Churchill . But it seems they no longer get it at all. The world is a poorer and scarier place.

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