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Freedom of Speech and Incitement to Violence - Why the proposed march through Wootton Bassett should be banned

Some of the subtleties of freedom of speech are often missed out of public debate. It is important to maintain freedom of speech and with it the right to protest.

At its most restrictive freedom of speech can be constrained so much that people are even prevented from revealing that they are restrained from talking about an issue. This is the "super injunction" or the Court Order what shall not speak its name.

I am a strong believer in freedom of speech. That is why I oppose having secret court orders (although there may be an argument for a short time limited constraint on a particular order).

However, at the same time I do not support the use of the freedom of speech to incite disorder. I took the view that the protests of the English Defence League in Birmingham were attempts to incite disorder.

In the same way I see the proposals from Al Muhajiroun (aka Islam4UK) to march through Wootton Bassett as being an inflamatory attempt to incite disorder.

I do think it is appropriate for the authorities to use their powers to prevent both of these types of event from happening. This is not a constraint on freedom of speech instead it is a reasonable approach to restrain people from taking actions which work towards inciting violence and disorder.

It became clear to the police after the last EDL demonstration that it was about inciting disorder. It was clear to me before it happened. The same principle applies to the proposal to march in Wootton Bassett.

It remains that I am unhappy with the government's strategy in Afghanistan. However, nothing is added to this by irresponsible attempt to incite disorder in the UK.


Chris Black said…
I'm with you on this one John
PoliticalHack said…
Not going to argue over this one. However, I don't think for a second that there was ever going to be a march. The aim was to get publicity on a slow news day and with a live interview on the Today programme and the print media suitably riled, this has been achieved.

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