|An MP closing down fre speech|
“You don’t protect free speech by allowing people to abuse it,”So, in a long line of people who think free speech only applies when people agree with them, proclaims Stella Creasy MP. The context is a pretty in-your-face campaign from a pro-life group targeting her directly and politically. I have, as a former politician, a modicum of sympathy for Ms Creasy's discomfort at the campaign especially given the campaigners' preparedness to use her pregnancy as a rationale for their critique.
But that's it really. I'm prepared to lay into her opponents and tell them their campaign, for all its righteousness, is crass and verging on unpleasant. But there is nothing in that campaign, not a word or a picture, that represents an "abuse" of free speech. Bringing in the police, the media and her local Labour-run council to close down somebody else's argument is far more of an abuse of free speech than anything pro-life and anti-abortion groups have done.
It is Stella Creasy and all the others - left and right - who want to shut down robust debate, challenge and in-your-face argument (unless it agrees with them of course then it's fine). This is the real attack on free speech not that a pro-life group put up posters of unborn children on the streets of a pro-abortion MP. Yet the media response has been to go all gooey over Ms Creasy while failing to realise that she's telling other people that their speech is unacceptable.
And what happened - here's Paul Embery:
Local council officials, on the other hand, were quick to respond to Creasy’s demands, using something called a ‘community protection notice’ to order the removal of the campaigners’ public education display. One can only assume that council officers concluded that the people of Walthamstow needed ‘protection’ against exposure to an alternative viewpoint.Community Protection Orders come from the same suite of anti-liberty regulations as PSPOs (you can blame Tony Blair and Theresa May for these oppressive rules) - designed to allow public authorities to criminalise things that aren't criminal (such as a poster with a picture of an unborn child in full colour). It was a shocking abuse of power designed to protect the sensitivities of a politician and prevent people from speaking freely in public.