Sunday, 10 January 2010

Freedom of Speech should be respected!

One of the most powerful rights we have as a democratic society is the right to Freedom of Speech. That we can voice our opinions openly and freely, and without the fear of reprisal or prejudice.

This is a right that many brave men and women have fought and died for over the generations.

So where does that leave the intended march proposed by extremist Muslim group Islam4UK, who have stated that they intend to march through Wooton Bassett to demonstrate against the Iraq war.

As we saw last year in Luton when the service men and women returned from their tour of duty, this consisted of placards bearing such offensive phrases as "baby killers", "rapists" and "Nazis".

While everyone has the right to Freedom of Speech within a liberal, democratic society, this needs to be tempered with responsibility.

While I have no issue with people voicing their opinions, no matter how extreme they may be to my own views, I think that Islam4UK's language is tantamount to incitement to hatred. I am quite sure if a group of hostile citizens gathered with similar placards denouncing the Prophet Allah, we would be very quickly locked up, and accused of being racist.

If Freedom of Speech is to have credibility, it needs to be granted in an even handed manner, so the same right is granted equally and without bias to every single citizen. I feel that in the case of Islam4UK, that they have been granted special treatment because UK citizens are so afraid of being branded racist, or being guilty of causing offence (sic).

If it is acceptable for an extremist Muslim organisation to brand our service men and women as Nazis, why is it not acceptable for me (or anyone else for that matter) to carry equally offensive placards about the Prophet Allah?

It is Britain's obsession with political correctness that means organisations such as Islam4UK will always be granted the right to be offensive, with little fear from the authorities.

Organising the march through Wooton Bassett is a cynical attempt to give them maximum publicity, and to cause as much offence as possible.

There is the argument of course, that by letting them have their march, they will reveal themselves for the vile, bigoted extremists that all decent people know them to be. But if we already know that they are vile and bigoted, then what do we gain from letting them have their march? We don't learn anything we didn't already know before.

I am firmly in favour of the right to Freedom of Speech, but that is a right that should be respected. Much blood has been spilled throughout our history to give each of us this right, and that should always be remembered!

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