Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Freedom of speech for who?

Not much surprise about the fact that the Sun, Mail and Express all decided their front pages on 11 March 09 should be outrage at the demonstration by a 'hate filled mob' at a homecoming parade for British soldiers.

The protesters numbered between 12 and 20, depending on which paper you read, and were led by Anjem Choudary, shameless self-publicist and current favourite tabloid hate figure. Rather than ignore it, so as to not give them the oxygen of publicity, they splash it all over the the front and inside pages to stoke more anti-Muslim feeling. Not in the least predictable, Melanie Phillips has weighed in with another tiresome rant about the 'Islamist threat to this country'. Forgive me if I don't feel threatened by 20 loudmouths with placards in Luton.

The tone of the coverage has been filled with words such as 'vile abuse', 'repellent', 'turns our stomach' and 'sickening'.

The one question that needs to be asked by these papers is this - why are they happy to defend people's freedom of speech only for certain people?

Compare, for example, to the Mail's story two days earlier headlined Tory councillor faces race hate charges after telling meeting gypsies would 'stab you as soon as look at you'. It didn't get much coverage but the tone of that article is nothing like as appalled as with the Luton stories. Indeed, the Mail website comments section is full of people defending him with the 'freedom of speech' line.

And of course, the Mail was all too willing to defend Carol Thatcher over her golliwog remarks and Geert Wilders over his anti-Islam film as free speech issues.

So why do they not defend the right to this sad group of Muslims to excersise their right to free speech?

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