|They teach them young in Liverpool|
Firstly freedom of speech means freedom of speech. There is a hackneyed old phrase that says; 'freedom of speech does not mean the right to shout fire in a packed cinema'. Fair enough, there are logical limits. But causing offence is an integral element of free speech. If I read something that I find offensive I have the freedom to continue reading or to stop reading. That is my right. Why should the writer, who offends me, be stopped from writing? But that is what is happening in our ever encroaching authoritarian, police state. Plod can't come out to deal with a burglary, but offend some oversensitive pillock and Knacker of the Yard will feel your collar faster than you can say.....well, something offensive.
It seems to me that social media is more like attending a football match than attending a heavy duty political debate or debating society. There is a great deal of macho posturing and outdoing of allies as well as opponents. We don't behave at a football match the way we do in the office, and people don't behave on Twitter and Facebook, in the main, the way they would on the hustings in an election campaign. I am speaking here of politicos using social media. Rather than reasoned debate aimed at converting opponents it is much more about trying to grind down opponents and boost your allies. If you don't like people on the right calling people on the left 'leftards', or even worse, then don't read them. If you don't like lefties throwing the word 'fascist' at anubody who disagrees with them, then don't read them. If you do, and engage them, expect it to get bloody but don't cry.
This week several heavyweights of the no nonsense, largely libertarian area of the internet have been purged. They have done nothing terrible. They haven't incited people to riot or to blow something up. They have offended somebody. For causing offence they have been banned from Twitter. In the case of Old Holborn his blog has also been taken down, whether by him voluntarily, or by the authorities forcibly I am unsure. But this link gives a good appraisal of Old Holborn's blog.
So what has Old Holborn done? It seems that he has upset Scousers and their questioned their famed victim status. From what I have found on the censored internet he questioned the accepted view of the Hillsborough disaster and the murder of Jamie Bulger. Old Holborn is hard hitting and controversial. As far as I am aware he put forward perfectly reasoned arguments that you may or may not agree with which, when I was at school, was what free speech was all about. Old Holborn, as far as I'm aware, has been writing on the internet for a few years and has survived. Until now.
Old Holborn may have caused offence but what happened to him says it all about modern Britain. His real identity, and that of his wife and children, were published on the internet as was his address. His mobile number was published and he has received numerous death threats. Threats have also been made against his employer.
But he chose the wrong target this time. He chose Scousers, and one of them complained to the police that he was upset. You see the problem is that Scousers think they are so hard and tough, but offend one and it cries like a big baby. So the Old Bill felt Old Holborn's collar, for expressing a personal opinion. Old Holborn has been nicked and banished to some kind of internet Siberia.
Other people on Twitter have been banned after lynch mobs of lefties have hounded them after 'being offended'. I'm not aware of anybody on the libertarian right having anybody banned for being offended, although I have seen some appalling abuse fired at people by lefties. Libertarians believe in free speech. But that's for another blog post.
If you sit in your armchair watching TV, never uttering an opinion or taking sides in a debate then you'll be fine. But if you think that one day you might just, possibly, maybe want to say something that another person may not agree with then you should be very worried, you may find yourself nicked.