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22 March 2013

For Whom Does The Bell of Freedom Toll? It Tolls For Thee

Make no mistake, this outrage is far less about the hacking scandal than it is about the fact that the so-called "tabloids" exposed the criminal MP expense scandal in which members of Parliament illegally used taxpayer funds for their own benefit.

THAT is why the three major parties wanted this affront to liberty!

Nigel Farage, the leader of UKIP, was a victim of hacking. Here he is on this outrage:

"For this government, or any bunch of so-called politicians to support the legislative underpinning of a voluntary agreement to oversee the press would be a huge mistake, and the first step on a very slippery slope. Control of the media should not now, or ever, be in any way the responsibility of politicians. Any Government intervention almost always fails, as would this. It is about politicians creating a cosy world of silence where they can live and act in peace and behave without public accountability. It would be a huge mistake and be laughable in the age of the Internet. Just completely the wrong thing to do. . . . My own phone was hacked, but that is neither is neither here nor there. Things go wrong in the press, as they do in every walk of life and business, but we already have legal redress. Criminal actions are criminal actions, and are already covered by the law. Those of us in my position already have recourse to the law. We must not create anything that restricts freedom. This is a Charter for the Suppression of the Press, not for its regulation. UKIP will fight these proposals as hard as we can."

A mere 14 courageous 14 MPs opposed it.

UKIP v the others. Compare and contrast. It's not difficult to see who is on the side of the people and who is on the side of the Etonians.

Free speech?

Don't need it.

Freedom of the press?



Freedom is such a 18th century idea.

Get with it! Move "Forward." Progress! Progress from liberty to a "freedom" where the elite clique rules the world! 

Someone wrote:

"Anyone who thinks the evils perpetrated in the UK cannot happen here is wrong-dead wrong. Just look at the radical extremist is the White House and consider that virtually all the leaders of Democrats are radical extremists and you will see the Fascist and Nazi wolves are barking right outside our door as well." 

The UK doesn't have a First Amendment. There is an entirely different legal framework addressing freedom of speech (not much) and freedom of the press (now, even less). For example, unlike in the US, there is no public official/public figure - actual malice standard. In the UK, if publish a story claiming that Jerry Falwell had sex with his mum, you'd better have proof of it. In the US, such a case would never be won (in the Hustler case it involved a satirical cartoon). In the UK, a 15 year-old can be incarcerated for calling Scientology a cult. Such speech is protected in the US.

It isn't just Obama, who would love to have such press restrictions. Nixon would have liked them, too. ALL politicians would like them, which is why the corrupt slimeballs in the Big 3 in the UK supported this outrage. They want their fiefdom protected. Although they may have marginal differences in ideology, almost all have the public schoolboy background (public schools in the UK are schools like Eton and Harrow) and are instilled with a sense of entitlement to rule. 

Now, I'd liked to turn to my countryman, Charles CW Cooke: 

Fundamental liberties are usually black-and-white propositions, and back when the architects of Anglo-American freedom had confidence in their work they had a lexicon fitting for people prepared to defend them. Tyrants and usurpers were termed “tyrants” and “usurpers.” Free men were entitled to “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.” Not now. Now, we speak of “compromises” between liberty and propriety, and of the need for the government to make sure that the citizenry and the media are “reasonable.” We are all familiar with Canada’s march toward tyranny and I have written often of similar British violations. Now, in my country of birth the government claims to have come to a “deal” on the freedom of the press. This should raise alarm bells: Free nations, suffice it to say, do not come to “deals” on the freedom of the press.

As John O’Sullivan reports: 

London, once the undisputed center of the free world, has fallen to the dull charms of cheap censorship. For the first time since 1711, it seems that the state will regulate the media. Those famous words that open the First Amendment, “Congress shall make no law,” written by men whose commitment to British liberty was so unshakable that they broke with the crown in order to preserve it explicitly in the republic that they had made, are the last vestige of a classical-liberal order that once looked impregnable. The Commonwealth is in a sorry state: In Canada, the Supreme Court is so happy for the government to silence the people that it has ruled that the truth constitutes no defense; Australia’s government is following the ugly trail of the Leveson inquiry, Britain’s investigation of the press; and in New Zealand the march toward outlawing all “hate speech” continues. And what of England my England? My country now imprisons people for being offensive on Twitter and arrests students who call police horses “gay,” stifles politically incorrect expression, and has found a majority of the political class willing to regulate the press. Only America retains ironclad prohibitions that remain unbroken by the vandals.

On David Letterman’s show late last year, the Eton- and Oxford-educated David Cameron claimed not to know what “Magna Carta” meant in English. At the time I suspected that this was a pretense — an attempt to remain cool in the face of learning. Now, I am not so sure. Cameron should pay a dear price for his enabling of the Leveson report and its consequences. But he will do no such thing. He is, after all, supported by the other two main parties and a majority of the public. A few have stood up, London’s Mayor Boris Johnson among them, “refusing to sign up to any of it.” They are brave, but they are eccentric. This way, slowly but surely, does liberty die.

In America, Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter’s preposterous claim yesterday that speech he doesn’t like is not protected by the First Amendment — and his unlettered recital of the “fire in a crowded theater” nonsense — were treated by thinking people as just that: preposterous and unlettered. In England, such ideas now have a strong, influential, and growing constituency. The old phrase “it’s a free country” is being diminished in favor of meaningless but masturbatory talk of “multiculturalism” and “inclusiveness.” What tosh. As far as this Brit is concerned, if any of the new ideas come into conflict with the classic principles of freedom then those new ideas can shove it. Screw feelings, reasonableness, compromises, and “deals.” Screw “balance” and “moderation” and “third ways.” Give me liberty or give me death! David Cameron can go hang, for all I care. I can still write that — right?

And, from John O'Sullivan:

Before I saw this morning’s news, I happened to be in the midst of Tom Stoppard’s fine trilogy of plays, The Coast of Utopia, about the different lives of such 19th-century Russian revolutionary intellectuals as Alexander Herzen and Mikhail Bakunin. The third play, Salvage, which begins in the Hampstead home of Herzen (I’m still reading it; its action may yet move to Paris or Geneva), contains the following remark from Herzen to his fellow-exiles about their English hosts:

They invented personal liberty, and they know it, and they did it without having any theories about it. They value liberty because it’s liberty. So when the Republic collapsed, you socialists — (He nods to Blanc.) — and you bourgeois republicans — (He nods to Ledru-Rollin.) — ran straight for the Dover Ferry.

Failed revolutionaries and fleeing exiles will be running straight for different destinations in future. Today, Britain’s three major parties agreed on a shameful compromise to bring the fractious British press under official regulation for the first time since 1771, when John Wilkes — the English equivalent of John Peter Zenger — successfully established the right of newspapers to publish uncensored reporting of parliamentary and public affairs. It is a serious attack on freedom by the Labour and Liberal Democrat parties, and a cowardly retreat in the face of that attack by Prime Minister David Cameron and the Tories.

The motives behind it are all too obvious. With all their flaws, Britain’s newspapers — not least the despised tabloids and the Daily Mail, hated for its strong defense of middle-class values — have uncovered a series of grave public scandals, including the fraudulent misuse of parliamentary expenses by MPs, that have embarrassed the politicians and the establishment. Dominic Sandbrook in the Mail details these recent examples of successful investigative journalism here.

Were there “excesses” by the tabloids that justified such regulatory intervention? Certainly there were excesses. The entire enterprise of press regulation was launched in response to the large-scale hacking of the telephones of celebrities and crime victims by journalists working for major media companies, notably but not solely News International. But the hacking of telephones was a crime, and about 60 journalists have been arrested and charged with it. Some have already gone to prison; more are likely to do so.

There was no need — and no logical justification — for the establishment of a large and long judicial inquiry under Lord Leveson. That was launched because Labour and Liberal Democrat parties wanted to get revenge on the conservative tabloids that they blame for their inability to keep working-class voters on the left-liberal plantation. They saw a chance to establish a system of press control that would protect them against the tabloids in future.

That temptation ran counter to all the things that liberals say and are supposed to believe. Nick Cohen, a liberal writer who values consistency, excoriates them here for their willingness to give up the ur-liberal principle of free speech and freedom of the media. But they have done exactly that in an undisguised and undeniable way. Cohen is wise enough to realize that one day they will regret this apostasy.

Related Reading:

The Illiberal, Liberal Left Smashes Liberty In The UK

British Speech Nannies and the Respectable Tendency

For Whom Does The Bell of Freedom Toll?  It Tolls For Thee 

Beware of the New Elites

Will the Press Feel That It Can Ever Rely On Muffin Cameron Again?

Mayor Nutter, The First Amendment, Ant That "National Conversation on Race"

Question Time With Mo: Are Speech Codes Constitutional?

The Speech Police Eats Its Own

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