Category: Free Speech (Page 2 of 2)

Careful of labels: The Tommy Robinson vs Quilliam story

On May 2, the Quilliam anti-extremist organisation in London was the site of an altercation between Quilliam members and Tommy Robinson, formerly of the English Defence League, and a cameraman. Tommy now works for the British branch of Ezra Levant’s right-wing Canadian news network, Rebel Media.

Tommy had gone to the offices of Quilliam to complain about an article in The Guardian newspaper by Quilliam’s researcher named Julia Ebner, about the rise in right-wing extremism in the UK, and how it and Islamist extremism feed off each other. This broad point is often well made and cogently put by Quilliam members like Maajid Nawaz, Adam Deen and Haras Rafiq who is Quilliams’ CEO. It is a convincing case for how extremism on all ideological fringes breeds a mirror image reaction on the opposite fringe.

The issue Tommy had with the article was with this specific paragraph, with the most contentious section highlighted:
That the far right has moved from the fringe into the mainstream demonstrates the massive support that white supremacist movements have attracted from digital natives. Their online followership often exceeds that of mainstream political parties: with over 200,000 followers, Tommy Robinson’s Twitter account has almost the same number of followers as Theresa May’s.

Tommy decided to confront the article’s author by going to see her at Quilliam’s London headquarters. As seen in the video uploaded to Rebel Media’s Youtube channel, Tommy tried to gain access to the building, was asked by Adam Deen if he had an invitation, and when he said he didn’t was asked to leave. Tommy then proceeded to interrogate Deen about whether he thought he was a white supremacist.

Once he was on his own, he re-entered the ground floor lobby, and given no-one was around, decided to go downstairs to see who he could find. Having done this, he ran into the various staff members and researchers who make up the Quilliam team, found Julia in a small conference room with other members, and proceeded to shove his microphone in their faces, while his cameraman filmed them all. A scuffle ensued when Deen tried to stop the incident by apparently grabbing Tommy’s microphone and recording equipment attempting to stop the cameraman filming. Tommy spoke to Haras Rafiq, and the police who were called then escorted Tommy and his cameraman off the premises.

Let me be plain. This was absolutely unacceptable conduct on Tommy Robinson’s part. He violated Quilliam’s security, and the organisation has now had an emergency relocation to new secure premises. He trespassed without permission, and intimidated members of their staff. This, despite all his protestations, made him look like the aggressor rather than the victim, the opposite of his aim. Also, he lost credibility in insisting he’s not an extremist when he copied tactics used by Islamist and other far-right organisations like Al-Muhajiron and Britain First. Added to this, the reaction of members of Quilliam’s staff, who understandably felt surprised and threatened was non-conducive to de-escalating the potential for physical conflict, as their snatching of the microphone and other film equipment only made the situation worse.IMG_0139

That said, let’s consider why Tommy was there, while in no way offering it as an excuse for his actions. Maajid Nawaz and Haras Rafiq have gone on record and repeatedly stated that they do not believe Tommy is a white supremacist, and that the article, which they had no editorial oversight over, was not intentionally worded to portray him as such. That’s all very well, but as Andrew Neill said on the BBC’s Daily Politics, the sentence structure and its chronology strongly implies that Tommy is a white supremacist. Despite Maajid Nawaz’s protestations to the contrary, there is no getting around this. Apparently English is Julia Ebner’s 3rd language, so it is perhaps understandable that her wording could be considered a little awkward in places. However, this is also little comfort as it shows the laxness of the editorial process both within Quilliam up to this point and at The Guardian. 

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Free Speech: No, CPAC disinviting Milo Yiannopoulos is not an attack on free speech

Milo Yiannopoulos’s brief history as an invited speaker to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) lasted less than a week. Given that Yiannopoulos is who he is, an attention seeker and an expert at victimization politics, he is sure to try to turn this into a discussion about free speech.

But make no mistake: This is no war on free speech, and it is nothing like the violence at Berkeley, which caused his speech to be shut down, or other attempts by anti-free speech radicals to silence invited speakers through intimidation or disruption.

CPAC, given that they are putting on the event, makes the decision over who it invites, and CPAC attendees decide whether to purchase a ticket or not. Even before videos of Yiannopoulos praising the potential of relationships between older men and minor children went viral, many conservatives were disappointed with the decision to invite Yiannopoulos, which was reportedly not made with the full approval of the CPAC board. CPAC, after all, is a “conservative” event, and Yiannopoulos offers no deep insight into conservative thought–or much of anything besides showmanship.

Free speech does not imply inviting anyone and everyone to give a speech. After all, CPAC had not extended invitations to Black Lives Matter activists, Lena Dunham, Barack Obama, Bernie Sanders, DeRay Mckesson, Shaun King, Brianna Wu, Anita Sarkeesian, or any other identity politics-supporting left-wingers.

They don’t have to extend invitations to anyone and everyone. CPAC, like the College Republicans, is a private group with its own viewpoints and agenda. In the past, CPAC has barred conservative-affiliated groups from being cosponsors for ideological disagreements (GOProud for its support of gay rights) and because of their radicalism (the John Birch Society). Those decisions can be debated, but it’s well within CPAC’s right to make them.

That many of their attendees and sponsors didn’t want to hear Yiannopoulos speak anymore than they wanted to hear DeAndre “Soulja Boy” Cortez Way speak doesn’t make them opponents of free speech–just people with values. In the end, the market place of ideas (and of money–CPAC sells tickets) determined Yiannopoulos’s fate.

Special Post: Lionel Shriver’s full speech

Editor’s Note: We usually follow a strict editorial line, of freedom of speech. The recent needless controversy regarding Lionel Shriver’s speech on Cultural Appropriation is phenomenal, and we at Bombs and Dollars believe therefore that it is our duty to repost and share the speech for everyone to read and share. (Source:The Telegraph, Photo Courtesy: Google Creative Commons.)


 

I hate to disappoint you folks, but unless we stretch the topic to breaking point this address will not be about “community and belonging.”

In fact, you have to hand it to this festival’s organizers: inviting a renowned iconoclast to speak about “community and belonging” is like expecting a great white shark to balance a beach ball on its nose.

The topic I had submitted instead was “Fiction and Identity Politics,” which may sound on its face equally dreary.

But I’m afraid the bramble of thorny issues that cluster around “Identity Politics” has got all too interesting, particularly for people pursuing the occupation I share with many gathered in this hall: fiction writing.

Taken to their logical conclusion, ideologies recently come into vogue challenge our right to write fiction at all.  Meanwhile, the kind of fiction we are “allowed” to write is in danger of becoming so hedged, so circumscribed, so tippy-toe, that we’d indeed be better off not writing the anodyne drivel to begin with.

Let’s start with a tempest-in-a-teacup at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine.

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WHO DID THIS?!

Sad day for free speech

Gawker’s demise, Twitter’s quality control, and Milo’s ban are qualitatively similar. And the implications are dangerous. 

Gawker is toast. The company, which was mired with controversies, is finally declaring themselves bankrupt. The company came out with this release, and I took a screenshot, in case it is not archived. 18c5da01-8627-43f3-813d-96b481d78359

On the same day, Twitter declared that they will impose “Quality Control”, to stop Trolls commenting. The idea is noble, to stop random internet abuse. Mary Sue is of course happy.

However it should give us a pause. But before that allow me to trace some history.

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The curious case of Ladislav Basternak

After spending a recent year in Italy and stopping in the UK on the way back, the long journey to Slovakia necessarily felt a bit anxious. Not only that there would be a lot of studying for the upcoming final state exam, together with all PhD applications and job/internship search; I have been also particularly curious about the state I will find my homeland in.

This summer, Slovakia has taken over the Presidency of the Council of the EU, and Slovak representatives have started to unusually frequently inflect the adjective ´democratic´ in relation to the country. As if there´s the need to convince domestic and foreign publics of the nature of the Central European state. I am always suspicious when statesmen suddenly come to stress and overemphasize a single issue. And I have had a nagging feeling that instead of comforting increasingly distrustful Slovak citizens, leading politicians have rather been reassuring themselves of persistently democratic character of the Slovak Republic. Or, they have been painstakingly trying to conceal a maturing bummer. It would be a shame if a large- scale scandal in the Slovakia´s domestic politics breaks out right during the Council Presidency. Such an instance would deal a major blow to the country´s prestige and could even lead to a fragmentation of coalition. The growing incidence of and frequency with which the collocation ´democratic- Slovakia´ appears in the media recently calls for further investigation.

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There’s a simple way to stop this protest madness at the Universities

Barely a month since I came back after a short trip to Oxford, I read about Yale students protesting against their English courses; the courses being too colonial and White. The organisers of this movement, are helped and organized by a faculty professor, newly appointed, named Dr Jill Richards, her claim to fame is having done pioneering research on Queer resistance cells during Second World war and attending a “Commie camp”.

Without pointing out the statistically insignificant effect of any Queer resistance cells anywhere in any time, affecting the broader geopolitics, it is ironic that she rallies and encourages students against the same “Western civilization” which fought against the epitome of state terrors in both Marxist and Nazi societies, when they were systematically killing people on the basis of their freedom of speech and sexuality. But there’s a broader significance in all of it.

In Mizzou, the protesters were aided and their rage channelized by Professors, notable among them is the now discredited Dr Melissa Click, herself with post-structural far-leftist sympathies. In this side of the pond, the BBC’s new Midsummer Night’s Dream is unashamedly edited and altered in the light if the narrative of a director with a distinct and vocal social agenda. White lecturers cannot attend equality conference, simply because they are white, In UK. I am not white by ethnicity, and I say this now, if this is not racism, I don’t know what it.

Without going into any further orotund circumlocution, here’s the simple hypothesis. 

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Referendum on Human Dignity Déjà-vu

Being the new kid on the blo(g)ck essentially comes hand in hand with a nagging sense of responsibility to avoid an embarrassing failure at the very first try and so I better spent a full week contemplating and wondering about the topic for my premier entry. After victoriously fleeing from the post-exam Italy and halfway to completing the sleeping marathon, the world news solved the conundrum pretty much on my behalf. “Italy’s parliament starts long-awaited debate on gay civil partnerships.” (Reuters). Born in Slovakia and, I repeat, just flying back from Italy; and having published the very first article on Slovakia´s Same-Sex Referendum… I have been obviously somewhat fatalistic and paternalistic. Not talking about the MA thesis that should be written before anything else.

The first thing to notice- and simultaneously the difference of a significant resonance- is the way the referendum is framed.

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Short post on the Yale Racism issue

So, this happened in Yale.

Now, I don’t know how to categorise this…brings up so many questions…not just for me, I believe.

When I was young, I grew up in the late 90s, we used to cringe if parents, School, Uni try to make us follow rules. What went wrong in the matter of 20 years? How did everyone turn to such frail fairies?!

To be honest, it is an American thing…thankfully not that much in Europe, England, New Zealand, and definitely not in China or India. (Pro-Tip…if you go and cry in India because your fee-fees are hurt, goodluck…you just killed your chances to be ever taken seriously, until you essentially move to a different job, timezone, postal code, and hope no one from your past life finds out. Yes, it is a tough country for overly sensitive people.)

The thing is, sensitivity is subjective. Ethics are mutating. Rules are never good, as they can be misused, and ever increasing. Banning is never an option, safe spaces make people perpetually weak, echo chambers just reinforce the same views, and make a student completely unprepared for real world, which is brutal.

Here’s something personal.

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