LibLink: Nick Clegg: Free speech must not be the victim in fighting extremism

In this week’s Standard column, Nick Clegg looks at the controversy surrounding Donald Trump and Tyson Fury and questions the knee jerk reactions that call for them to be banned:

But there are always things in life which are unpleasant and offensive. Donald Trump is a dangerous loudmouth. Tyson Fury is a terrible role model. Germaine Greer is wrong on transgender rights.

Maybe it’s the instant, push-button, “something must be done” culture of the internet age. Adding your name to an online petition without a second’s thought is a gratifyingly rapid reflex to something that is irritating or outrageous in the news. It’s the digital equivalent of children stamping their feet in anger or frustration. My kids do it all the time.

But in the real world we can’t just wish away everything we don’t like. More importantly, banning stuff doesn’t mean it goes away — it just pops up somewhere else. Barring Trump from the UK is the political equivalent of playing Whack-a-Mole — he’ll just pop up somewhere else, twice as loud.

In a liberal society, offensive views should be challenged, not blocked. Bigots should be exposed and defeated in argument. Big-mouthed cretins should be ridiculed, not turned into martyrs (and certainly not elected president).

He then gave a bit of an insight into the arguments between the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives:

The Lib-Dems saw the solution in free speech where extremist ideas are beaten and discredited in public debate; the Conservatives sought to restrict or ban extremists from the airwaves or the internet for saying divisive things. The Home Office proposed so-called “banning orders” for groups that fell short of the existing threshold for proscription under the Terrorism Act — giving the Government far greater freedom to ban groups it didn’t like — and Asbo-style powers to prevent people from saying “extreme” things.

Towards the end of last year the Home Office produced a draft Extremism Strategy, which included everything from banning orders to “fundamental British values” tests for foreigners applying for visas, to powers to allow the Government to pre-approve TV programmes for broadcast.

More recently, thankfully, the Government appears to have backed off from some of the more unworkable ideas but still wants to go ahead with the banning orders and Asbo-style powers.

He concludes that:

Free speech is the antidote, not the cause, of unpleasant opinions.

What do you think? Are there limits? If so, where and how do you draw the line?

You can read the whole article here.

* Newshound: bringing you the best Lib Dem commentary published in print or online.

Read more by or more about , or .
This entry was posted in LibLink.
Advert

2 Comments

  • Alan Hughes 19th Dec '15 - 5:23pm

    I was glad to find this link to the article. He has expressed well my concerns with increasingly illiberal times. This is one area which puts clear water between the liberals and the conservatives and labour. As an ex-labour voter, looking for a home, it is quite attractive.

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

If you are a member of the party, you can have the Lib Dem Logo appear next to your comments to show this. You must be registered for our forum and can then login on this public site with the same username and password.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

*
*
Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?

Advert



Recent Comments

  • User AvatarKeith Legg 18th Nov - 5:59am
    And just reading the Scotsman article, I particularly liked this quote from the SNP candidate: "The longer answer is people in East Dunbartonshire are fed-up...
  • User AvatarKeith Legg 18th Nov - 5:57am
    @Yousuf Farah - I'd say it was pretty unlikely. Yes, the SNP are hellbent on winning it back - but even then they realise their...
  • User AvatarRossMcL 18th Nov - 1:12am
    Well Yousuf you started saying it was "very likely" the SNP would win ED, and now you're saying: "they might. who knows." In other words,...
  • User AvatarJoseph Bourke 18th Nov - 1:10am
    Paul Pettinger, Ed Davey in his speech has said: " I can announce today that across a 5 year Parliament, Liberal Democrats would spend and...
  • User AvatarYousuf Farah 17th Nov - 11:58pm
    @Peter Martin Come on, there is no way the Lib Dems will form any kind of coalition or pact with the Tories after the election,...
  • User AvatarYousuf Farah 17th Nov - 11:45pm
    @RossMcL Well the SNP won it in the EU parliament elections this year, so that's usually a good indicator that the people there might vote...