Myleene Klass, pop star and broadcaster, objected to Labour leader’s Ed Miliband proposed mansion tax policy. A campaign has been started to have her dropped from her contract with retail outlet Littlewoods.
Two columnists were to debate at Oxford University about whether abortion imposed costs on wider society. Some students objected that they were men, and threatened to disrupt. The event was cancelled when no alternative venue could be found. Thankfully men in parliament passed the abortion bill into law without needing a uterus years ago.
A play depicting the representation in the past of people of colour had some great reviews about how moving it was. Some objected without having seen it, and campaigned outside the Barbican theatre venue for it to be pulled. Which it was, despite actors involved saying what it meant to them in challenging racism and the past.
A scientist talking about a space probe landing on a comet wore a garish shirt, made for him by a female friend, that partly depicted PVC clothed women on it. A torrent of hate was directed at them both for perpetuating misogyny and discrimination of women in science and society. He broke down in tears as he apologised.
A muslim prospective parliamentary candidate said his faith was bigger than being offended by a cartoon of the prophet saying “How Ya Doin’?” A global campaign to have him deselected ensued, together with death threats, when he shared that image on Twitter.
All these things happened this year. There is a common theme. No one was being deliberately hurt, oppressed, no illegal activity was taking place. People however were offended by other’s free speech and in response demanded it’s suppression or censor.
Restricting freedom of expression, saying who can and cannot discuss this or that, should concern all defenders of democracy. For when others can close down discussion because they are offended, the liberties we take for granted are under threat.
There are real issues involving taxation, racism, feminism, and free speech to be had. Cowering before the mob to be silent or risk censor does not help the discussion. It jeopardises a free society when somethings are taboo.
We need to push back against this “I’m offended so I have jumped on a bandwagon to suppress discussion” social media activist brigade. Public discourse is too important to be manipulated this way.
Long may we disagree, and have the freedom to openly do so.
Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog