Passionate about free speech

RIGHTS: Everyone has a right to free speech. Photo: Shutterstock

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AS most of you are well aware, both I, and of course the EWN, are extremely passionate advocators of free speech. ‘I may not agree with what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it’ – an’ all that.

This policy has led, over many years of scribble, to earn me in some quarters the title of Mr Marmite! Well, be that as it may, I will continue to write what I think and truly feel, until I either keel over or this great publication orders me to desist.

Which brings me to this week’s gripe. It concerns the report that last week a 19-year-old Ukip student was suspended from his university for declaring, during an open debate on immigration, that he ‘didn’t think immigrants should automatically have access to a free NHS’.

He also stated that he would ‘never eat at Subway because they sold Halal meat’, which he branded as ‘barbaric’.

The University of Central Lancashire accused him of making ‘offensive and inappropriate comments’ and suspended him for the rest of the academic year.

Well, to my mind, while actually being denied a large chunk of his education for what was basically his right of free speech is, irrespective of his views, bad enough; it was however the rest of the statement that I found most disturbing. The university spokes ‘person’ then went on to declare that the young man could return to his studies in September, providing he signs a ‘good conduct agreement’ and… wait for it…. Takes a ‘diversity training course’!

Now if a statement like that doesn’t send shivers up the spine nothing will. This whole directive positively reeks of indoctrination and blackmail; Orwell’s 1984 and Red Chinese brainwashing techniques also come to mind.

What they are almost unbelievably telling this young man is, come around to our way of thinking and we´ll give you your life back! Well I think it´s a disgrace and undoubted denial of his human rights.

And while we’re about it, I could actually suggest many thousands of potential customers who would qualify for a ‘diversity training course.’

Unfortunately, I can’t see any Government having the courage to implement any ruling of this nature. Ah well, it’s obviously only for those who don’t have the resources to ‘bite back’.

On a lighter, but still somewhat serious note; just as a matter of interest, I recently took the on-line official test for British citizenship. Result? Just about scraped through! I actually found some of the questions more than a touch difficult. If all the successful applicants for citizenship in the UK were able to answer even 50 per cent of these test questions, I promise to eat every word I’ve ever scribed – Just saying! Try it yourself. I’ll be interested in the results. Will you be accepted, or have to go back where you came from? Just Google up ‘British Citizen test’. Good luck.

Keep the faith

Love Leapy. [email protected]

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  1. I too will always be a passionate defender of freedom of speech – until I too keel over. However it is absolutely vital to be aware of the difference between truthful free speech on the one hand, and lies or half truths artfully disguised as free speech on the other. For example, most people will be aware of certain advocates of free speech who deny that the Nazi Holocaust against the Jews ever happened. Of course it did. There is ample proof that it did. Therefore denying the Holocaust ever happened is NOT free speech – it’s just lies. David Irving was famously jailed for promoting such lies, and rightly so in my humble opinion. You see, as well as defending free speech I will also defend the truth – until I keel over.

    With that in mind let’s examine Leapy’s article about the UKIP student more deeply. Typically, it is not the full story. Basically he has written a half truth without mentioning anything which does not suit his purposes. For example, he does not mention that a large number of students complained to the university about the speech, so it could not simply ignore all the other students. It had to act. If it had not taken action it would have been open to the charge of a dereliction of duty towards its students – ALL of its students. He fails to mention, for example, that the UKIP student said people who do not speak English should “not be paid for” because “this is our country”. Many English residents in Spain might have something to say about that if they were denied using the Spanish health system or the roads or any Spanish facilities because they do not speak Spanish! Incidentally, the UKIP student is perfectly at liberty to deprive HIMSELF of the culinary delights of Subway and KFC if they go against his disapproval of eating halal meat, but what he actually said to his audience was, “you would have to kill yourself if you ate halal meat.” Oh, really? That would lead to the bulk of the British public committing mass suicide. Not something to be recommended.

    If you take the time to read the whole story from many different sources it becomes perfectly clear that the UKIP student is a childish, racist idiot who needs to grow up and become an adult. I am at a loss to understand why Leapy is defending him, except for the fact that this is the sort of thing Leapy does all too frequently. Basically, he’s making a fuss about nothing. So far, so normal.

    PS. Regarding him doing the British citizenship test, good for him, but how would he get on with the Spanish one?

  2. The point here is that a student was suspended because he had views that did not align with those of the students who complained, which is a slippery slope. Instead of having a debate and trying to change his mind – something that should be encouraged in universities to prepare students for the rigours of real life – they decided just to get rid of him and then patronisingly offer him a ‘diversity training course’ as though that would solve everything. As far as his views were concerned, yes, they were hard right. But it is not racist to say that you disagree with the slaughter of animals for halal meat, and you’d have to be pretty dumb to think he actually meant it when he said you would have to kill yourself if you ate halal meat. Not exactly a killer argument is it? An easy one to rebut, but no, better just to shut him down.
    Do we know how many students complained? Was it a handful, a couple, the majority? The facts would be useful. And why did they complain? Because they were ‘offended’? What will they do in the workplace if something offends them? Do something about it through open debate, or cry to their boss and demand sackings? Where will it end? I don’t agree with everything that student said but rather than get offended I would happily debate his points with him. That’s the whole point of democracy as opposed to the ‘you can’t say that’ state the UK is turning into.

    • Sorry Angus, I don’t agree with you. Please consider the terrible stabbing to death of the two 17 year olds, Jodie Chesney and Yousef Makki. This is symptomatic of a major escalation of deadly knife crime against completely innocent, non-violent young people – something relatively new, compared with knife wielding thugs attacking other knife wielding thugs. This development should serve as a warning to us all because hate-speech, often thinly disguised as free-speech, is one of the main causes of increasing violence and knife crime. Hate-speech can be all too readily absorbed by young impressionable minds and both hate-speech and knife crime are increasing at the same time. This is no coincidence. Plainly, what the young UKIP student was preaching was hate-speech, not ordinary everyday free speech. All the evidence is out there if you want to spend a little time checking what he actually said. I shouldn’t need to repeat it here.
      Clearly, while we need to continue to support free-speech, we need to put an end to hate-speech. To do so, we need to prevent those who publish hate-speech from being able to continue doing it and we need to discourage those who support them too. If this means denying them a suitable platform then so be it, whether that platform is in social media, extremist political groups, or even in otherwise ordinary newspapers. If nobody takes any action to deal with this then we are all to blame.

      • Brian, first indications are that at least one of those stabbings could be a ‘gang initiation’ dare which isn’t necessarily linked to hate speech – there have always been gangs fighting over turf and doing stupid violent things like this. All kinds of reasons why knife crime has got worse recently as the politicians are now urgently debating at last – I don’t think this student is helping matters but were his comments ‘hate speech?’ If expressed less aggressively then they were simply topics for debate eg is it right to slaughter animals in the halal way? Fair question.
        I would still suggest that the first course of action is to sit down with the guy and explain why he needs to reign back on his rhetoric. If he fails to this, then ok, suspend him. But we can’t brand anything we disagree with as ‘hate speech’ just because it targets a particular group of people, if the point being made is a fair one, or tell people their views cannot be heard because we said so, because we know best. It was only when Nick Griffin appeared on Question Time (despite liberals loudly complaining) that he could illustrate what an odious man he was and people could draw their own conclusions. He didn’t have the same profile after that. Banning him talking just fuelled the fire.

        • I understand where you’re coming from Angus and you are quite right of course with regard to allowing Nick Griffin onto Question Time for example. Nevertheless, that was in the context of a public debate where many other views were expressed by many other people. This effectively contrasted Nick Griffin and his shortcomings with much more reasonable points of view. However, the UKIP student was in a quite different environment where he was single-handedly preaching to a group of fellow students who quite rightly complained about his hateful monologue to the university authorities.
          I suppose the core of the issue is this. Namely that it is very important to give people a platform for free speech, but it is also extremely important to try to protect certain impressionable people in our society from the poisonous effects of hate speech, particularly when they are still quite young and their minds are still growing. I am sure you will appreciate, as I do, that finding the right balance between the two conflicting requirements is not always easy. Leapy of course thinks with touching simplicity that it is easy. He thinks the young man should simply be free to say whatever he likes without fear of any consequences! It should come as no surprise that Leapy also supported Tommy Robinson in an article he wrote last year. He’s getting quite a track record for doing this sort of thing. Most people will probably know by now that Tommy Robinson’s Facebook and Instagram pages and profiles have been removed recently. And that Twitter, You Tube and PayPal took action against him prior to that. All these influential platforms banned him because of his notoriously hateful propaganda. I wrote my response to this article by Leapy with all of that very much in mind.
          While I believe it would have been more preferable for the university authorities to try harder to educate the student against the error of his ways, I recognise that they clearly felt it was necessary to do more than that. It seems they gave more weight to the other students’ welfare over his. This may or may not have been the correct decision, but the fact that even greater action has been taken against the broadly similar language used by Tommy Robinson shows that while the majority may not always be right, sometimes they are.

  3. Leapy did you do the on-line citizenship test, after I suggested people try it last week? Like you I only just scrapped through, even though I consider myself to be fairly well educated and have a good command of the English language. Even my mother, who I would happily send on any general knowledge TV show, didn’t do that much better. As I said last week, it has nothing to do with day to day UK life.

  4. The author appears not to properly understand the principles regarding freedom of speech in the UK. Under Article 10 of the Human Rights Act of 1998 it is made quite clear to those are willing to read it, that whilst the right of freedom of speech is recognized in principle, it also spells out quite clearly that there are certain restrictions that apply and that the crossing of those lines can lead to prosecution, under the law. The student that the author is defending, it has been argued, did indeed cross the line and should be grateful that the institution did not take more serious action. It is ironic that Leapy Lee decries the infringement of this student’s Human Rights since he has on numerous occasions derided others when Human Rights are claimed.
    For those who need to be educated in the matter, the rules regarding the production of Halal meat are based on customs also followed by members of the Jewish faith known as Kosher. The very fast killing of animals for food is in fact, a whole lot less barbaric than the methods employed in the Christian west. The animal in the Islamic and Jewish tradition would pass out very suddenly from catastrophic loss of blood to the brain. In the West animals are subjected to a factory process where they are terrorized prior to death by the distress caused as they approach the line and can sense the agony of those ahead of them. The release of adrenaline taints the meat. If you have ever been near a meat production facility in the US South west, you will never eat another hamburger again. The conditions in these places are appalling, you can smell the stench from miles away and the landscape is literally black from the fecal matter that the animals are forced to live in. No wonder that so much antibiotics are needed, which we then consume.
    Diversity training? Perhaps Mr Marmite should get some also. Which of course brings one to the most interesting disclosure by the author. Mr Marmite! After I picked myself off the floor I did some research, not being familiar with this term. Well, if it refers to describing someone who you either love or hate, then it is perfect for the author. Whilst I used to enjoy marmite as a child I have come to be utterly repelled by the stuff. But it does provide some refreshing levity in this morass. I would like to offer a toast to Mr Marmite. One slice or two? And how is Mrs Marmite? Unfortunately suffering from a severe yeast infection. Any one care to jump in?


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