It’s difficult to tell whether we have freedom of expression in the UK anymore.
Freedom of expression should be paramount in any free society. It is under heavy attack today. There is now some sort of currency on hurt feelings and ‘cancel culture’ has somehow become normal in our society.
Of course, there should be some restrictions on speech. A call to violence or shouting “fire” in a crowded building should, of course, be prohibited by law.
However, when ‘offence’ comes into it, it is a completely different case entirely. Offence is subjective – it’s up to an individual to decide what they do or do not find offensive, therefore it cannot be policed.
It’s not that there is no such thing as hate speech. It is, unfortunately, a real thing. However, who gets to decide what is and is not offensive? What tweets do or do not warrant arrest? People lose their jobs and even go to prison in this country over ‘mean tweets’.
What’s worse is that what is not offensive today may well be tomorrow. A small but extremely vocal group of far-left radicals have somehow managed to police speech in this country.
That’s right, the same group of people who want to ‘defund the police’ are also the first to dial 999 whenever something upsets them on social media.
Racism is the left’s favourite word – it’s almost like a get out of jail free card. They see something they dislike or are presented with an argument which they disagree with but cannot combat, and ‘RACISM!’ is their response. Other responses include (but are not limited to) Nazi, Fascist and Bigot.
When you devalue a word like ‘Nazi’ by changing its meaning from someone who was complicit in the killing of over 6 million Jews to someone who is to the right of Socialism, not only do you take away from the atrocity, you also make society feel like a dangerous place for people with moderate political views.
Cancelling people for 10-year-old tweets, pulling down statues and putting people on a list for racial offences are not going to change the way a racist thinks.
This kind of behaviour also plays into the hands of the far-right. If more and more people are branded racists or Nazis simply because they haven’t cracked enough woke algorithms, they are far more likely to become fed up and start fighting fire with fire.
It’s an endless circle. Time to break the chain.