Delingpole: Why I’m Backing Toby Young’s Free Speech Union

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The most nauseating phrase in the English language is “I’m not against free speech but…”

That’s because it’s always followed by a weaselly exegesis in which the slippery, disgusting, and borderline fascistic user explains why, actually, they don’t believe in free speech — and here are their crap reasons.

Usually, the excuse given is that there’s this thing called “hate speech” which should never be allowed because it’s so hateful.

By this token, leading liberal-left Establishment lawyer Helena Kennedy QC — Baroness Kennedy of The Shaws, as she is now known — ought never to be permitted to open her highfalutin Scottish gob again, except maybe at weekends when, in a spirit of mercy, she might be allowed out once to order a deep fried pizza and a bottle of Buckfast tonic.

That’s because pretty much everything she says is the purest, sanctimonious liberal-left poison which undoubtedly, in my view, makes the world a worse place and is therefore hate speech in excelsis.

As Exhibit A, I present this ubiquitous, BBC-endorsed super-pest’s recent appearance on Politics Live, in which she deploys her expert legal brain to womansplain why she thinks Toby Young’s new Free Speech Union is a bad thing.

“I feel that some of the people who join your organisation will be racists wanting to use this as a cover in order to be abusive in racist ways. You will also have people who hate homosexuals, who hate trans people. You will also have lots of people who come on who have hostile views towards Islam. So I suspect that you will get an awful lot of ugly views being expressed and while I believe in freedom of speech it doesn’t mean freedom to be abusive.”

Really, Baroness Kennedy of The Shaws? Really??

I’d say that freedom to be abusive is most especially what freedom of speech means, which is why I’m celebrating that freedom now you frightful, unbelievably annoying hag.

There are many cherishable awfulnesses in Kennedy’s BBC performance. One, of course, is that the person she is choosing to lecture and patronise on the menace of racism is the Free Speech Union’s director Inaya Folarin — who, unlike Baroness Kennedy, happens to be black.

Another, as Brendan O’Neill has noticed, is the way she equates any hostile view of Islam with the kind of freedom of speech she doesn’t believe in.

Consider, for a moment, the outrageousness and intellectual untenability of Kennedy’s fatuous position: she is actually arguing — using her very well paid QC brain presumably — on actual television in the early 21st century that the only permissible view of Islam is a benign and approbatory one.

If you have concerns about some of Islam’s attitudes to say, infidels, or the rights of women, or war and conquest, she appears to be arguing, then you should not be allowed the freedom to say so.

All this is by way of a lengthy and satisfyingly rude preamble to explaining why now, perhaps more that any time in recent history, we need Toby Young’s Free Speech Union.

The Union is a non-partisan, mass-membership organisation that stands up for the speech rights of its members. Its website gives a few examples of the kind of protection it offers:

  • If you find yourself being targeted by a digital outrage mob on social media for having exercised your legal right to free speech, we will mobilise an army of supporters
  • If a petition is launched calling for you to be fired, when you’ve done nothing other than exercise your legal right to free speech, we’ll organise a counter-petition
  • If you’re no-platformed by a university — a feminist professor who challenges trans orthodoxy, for instance — we’ll encourage you to go to law and organise a crowdfunding campaign to pay your costs
  • If newspaper columnists and broadcasting pundits start attacking you for dissenting from orthodox views and opinions, we could get our allies in the media to come to your defence
  • If you’re punished by your employer because you’ve exercised your lawful right to free speech, we’ll do our best to provide you with legal assistance

At the launch party in London, author Douglas Murray declared that “free speech is like oxygen — you only notice it when it’s starting to run out.”

And he’s right. When I was a university undergraduate in the early ’80s, free speech was a given — an unquestioned good, even among leftists, which needed no defending because no one ever thought to question it.

Now, from safe space campuses to the increasingly oppressive and constrained workplace, it is becoming harder and harder to speak freely openly, especially for those of us on the political right.

Left-liberal Establishment figures like Baroness Kennedy are one of the main reasons why this is so. The erosion of free speech — after all those centuries of groundwork defending it and establishing it as an inviolable principle by the likes of John Milton, John Wilkes, and John Stuart Mill — could never have happened without some very high-level pushback from members of the liberal elite. By endorsing ridiculous notions like the idea of “hate speech” (an invention of Tony Blair’s coterie of human rights lawyers) and the idea that free speech precludes being rude about preferred religions, these Establishment bigwigs have legitimised the path towards censorship, speech codes, offence archaeology, and suchlike.

My concern, as I repeatedly try to explain to Toby Young on our weekly podcast London Calling, is that Tobes is always far, far too forgiving of the enemy — or, perhaps, insufficiently robust in confronting them.

I was especially worried — as were some of you — when he tweeted this about Tommy Robinson.

Young assures me that he wasn’t trying to have a dig at, let alone reject from membership, Tommy Robinson. But it did come across, I fear, uncomfortably like an attempt to fend off all the various left-wing jackals prowling round the Free Speech Union and trying to find a weak point they could attack.

At least one left-wing blog site tried to make a big deal of the fact that Tommy Robinson was intending to join the Free Speech Union and that there was something undesirable about this. Young’s response could easily have come across like that of a man trying to throw the jackals a gobbet of meat in order to appease them.

Since then Young has issued the following statement:

“It’s a union so anyone is welcome to join. That doesn’t mean we’d defend their point of view, just that we’ll defend their right to express it without being harassed — or worse — by the public authorities. However, like any other union, we will kick people out if they don’t uphold our values. In our case, that means being committed to free speech, so not trying to silence your opponents by engaging in bullying or intimidation or threats of violence. If Stella Creasy was a member, for instance, we’d kick her out for enlisting the help of the public authorities to silence critics of her views on abortion.”

Still not sure it’s quite as robust as what I’d have said in Young’s position, but then, he’s a cuck and I’m not. Unlike Toby, I understand that the enemies of free speech are genuinely malign, indeed evil, rather than merely misguided.

Then again, it was Toby not me who had the drive and initiative to set up the Free Speech Union. He deserves our support — and I promise to do my bit by keeping him on the straight and narrow if he shows any signs of wavering.

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