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Thursday, 11 June 2009

Freedom of Speech

I hold no particular liking for any political party but I am in favour of freedom of speech. The way many people are reacting to the BNP's success in the European elections puzzles me. If we support freedom of speech which as a country we always say we do, how can so many people openly criticise this one particular party in such emotional terms?

Freedom of speech must inevitably mean people are going to say things you don't like and don't agree with. But if you start pelting people with eggs or anything else for that matter you have lost the argument before it even started. That is not peaceful protest it is an attempt at intimidation. It is an attempt to stop duly elected politicians having their say. We live in a democracy and have a political system which allows everyone to vote for the people whose policies they wish to support. If you then get the far right or the far left elected by a fair and open process then those are the people a majority in a particular area wish to support. Perhaps that should be a majority of those who voted. If you didn't vote you only have yourself to blame for not exercising your democratic right.

Having said all that I am not sure how anyone with any knowledge of history and the evolution of man can state there are some people in the world who are less equal than others. We are apparently descended from that same small group of people whatever we look like and wherever we live now. That to me means we're all of equal value. The problem lies I think in so many people equating any far right party with the Nazis and the fascists. This is inevitably going to produce a visceral reaction in anyone - me included! This sort of reaction is very difficult to reason with and very difficult to overcome. But it is the protestors who worry me more because they are showing they lack the ability for reasoned argument.

But as ever I'm with Voltaire - I may disagree with everything you say but I would defend to the death your right to say it.


kcm said...

If you didn't vote you only have yourself to blame for not exercising your democratic right.

Sorry but I can't agree with this. I didn't vote in the recent Euro elections. Not from apathy, but because I made a deliberate decision that I didn't like any of the dozen or more candidates on offer. So I protested by not voting. Which I don't see as being materially different from turning up at the polling station and spoiling my ballot paper.

Additionally I don't agree with the half-baked PR system we have for Euro elections, nor do I approve of the gravy-train which is the European Parliament. Both were additional factors in my protest.

Of course, if voting was compulsory (and notwithstanding the above I am minded to think it should be), I would have turned out and spoilt my paper. As it was I saved myself half an hour's aggravation to exactly the same effect.

I fail to see how this is either undemocratic or denies me the right to complain. :-)

Jilly said...

Like you I think voting should be compulsory. I opted for a permanent postal vote so I don't need to turn out.

I do see your point about protesting and I suppose if enough people don't vote or spoil their ballot papers then the whole system would need to be looked at again.

I don't understand the voting system for European parliaments either! Does anyone? I think we shouldn't be in the EC - it's another layer of government we could well do without. The EC should only be a trading association in my opinion.