Thursday 15/01/2015 20:09Category: Human rights
OMG I agree with a lawyer!
What's worse, an American lawyer. I even have to admit that America has got it right. The First Amendment of the US constitution enshrines into law the right to free speech and freedom of the press. In the UK (and France) we go through legal contortions to try and prevent speech that 'offends' minorities or incites certain behaviours. Who decides what is offensive and what incites? The lawyer, David Rivkin, made the argument on Radio 4's PM programme (15 January 2015) that the only sustainable way to counter offensive arguments is to explain, with cogency and crispness why they are wrong. Curtailing free speech is not the answer, it doesn't work, never has and never will.
Article 10 of the Eurpoean Convention on Human Rights provides the right to freedom of expression. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, developed as a direct consequence of the horrors of the second world war provides, in Article 19, that "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers."
Freedom of expression is the foundation of our values and must be defended at all costs. Dangerous ideas must be countered by better ideas, facts, logic and the weight of argument. Do not let politicians continue to generate a climate of fear in which they can undermine our freedoms. They are wrong and we must tell them so.