Tuesday, 5 May 2009

They shall not pass...

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Remember the bans on Geert Wilders and the Westboro Baptist Church earlier this year? Well Home Secretary Jacqui Smith has just published the full list of those banned from entering the UK, and it reads like the guestlist for the world's most ill-advised dinner party. I can picture it now – there's Wilders tucking into some canapes, having an awkward just-met conversation with Hezbollah militant Samir Al Quntar and Hamas MP Yunis Al-Astal. Across the room, Fred Phelps is enjoying a glass of bubbly with ex-Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard Stephen 'Don' Black and Russian skinhead supremos Artur Ryno and Pavel Skachevsky. Meanwhile, the true gooseberry in the room is Jewish extremist Mike Guzovsky. Surrounded by Islamist extremists and neo-Nazis, this is one party where he's really struggling to fit in.

But on a serious note, this list poses some interesting questions for free speech advocates. Let's face it, those on the list hardly make up a desirable bunch, and we could certainly manage perfectly well without hearing what any of them have to say. But as I've said on here before, this idea that the Home Secretary acts as some sort of gatekeeper, deciding what views are acceptable and then keeping out any foreigners who don't hold to them, is incredibly discomforting. We should have some confidence in our ability to argue back against these people. It's not often that I find myself agreeing with Inayat Bunglawala of the Muslim Council of Britain, but what he is quoted as saying in the BBC article on this is spot on: "If they step over the line and break the law, it's at that moment the law should be enacted, not beforehand. If people are keeping their odious views to themselves, that's their business. We should not be in the business of policing people's minds."


Anonymous said...

I disagree with the view that they should keep their views to themselves. Who decides which views have to be kept quiet and which are allowed to be aired openly? We already have laws covering incitement to commit criminal acts. We should use them if people incite and, if not, laugh, point, debate and generally work out for ourselves why they're wrong...

Paul Sims said...

I agree. I think the point is that the law will be used if there's incitement. Otherwise yes, let's defeat them with argument, and of course mockery (especially for the Phelps's of this world). The point is you can only do something about it when it happens, not preemptively.

digitaltoast said...

The true hypocrisy of the MCB is shown clearly now.

They wrote a letter asking for Geert Wilders to be banned as he might say something they don't like.
But when they want to import a hate preacher, it's a different matter! What a bunch of clowns!
Full blog post with text and links here on the site link


Joe Hayhurst said...

Hmm. If you know what someone is going to say: 'god hates fag-enablers', 'kill the infidels', etc, and you know why they're coming to Britain (to stir up trouble) then to be honest I don't really give a shit if they are banned. Why should our taxpayers money have to be spent on security for these foreign people who want to abuse our hospitality?

While they're at it, maybe they should ban Carol Thatcher for good measure!

Anonymous said...



THE government's decision to ban some foreign people with unpleasant views has made everyone incredibly nice, it was confirmed today.

Within minutes of the Home Office announcement, racists, violent extremists and homophobes agreed to put down their placards and stop being so ruddy unpleasant all the time.

The Reverend Fred Phelps, the US psychopath who thinks all soldiers are gay witches, said: "The British government makes an excellent point. I will stop thinking these thoughts immediately."

He added: "Would you like to touch me on the bottom?"