Michael Savage – is banning him good for our democracy?

The United Kingdom has published a list of people that they will not allow to enter the country. It is entirely reasonable to exclude people from entering your country. There are all sorts of undesirable types, such as terrorists, murderers, those who incite violence and criminals that any reasonable person would wish to exclude from their country. I have no problem with that. Where I have a problem is when people are excluded on the grounds of their ideas and views and where their ideas may offend some and may be wrong headed, but the ideas themselves do not incite or provide a basis for a criminal prosecution.
Voltaire said “I disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Free speech is the right to state your opinions freely. The argument that no one is free to shout “fire” in a crowded theatre has nothing to do with free speech. Shouting “fire” is not an expression of your opinion; denying the holocaust or climate change is, and we should remember that.
It seems that this concept of free speech is not grasped by the United Kingdom’s Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith. She does not often grasp the difference between right and wrong, as her expense claims show, and that is a fundamental failing of an elected politician in charge of law and order in any country, let alone one like the United Kingdom, with its history of fighting for free speech and other freedoms.
So, while Mrs Smith is right to ban people from entering the shores of the United Kingdom because they are criminals or are likely to be involved in criminal activity, she is quite wrong to ban them on the grounds of their opinions. If we start banning people because they do not believe what we believe where will it end?
Her latest ban includes a gentleman called Michael Weiner, also known as Michael Savage. This gentleman is a radio journalist (a “shock jock”) who regularly reaches audiences in the United States exceeding eight million listeners. He has views that Mrs Smith finds offensive – he thinks, for example, that autism is not a real illness, that the Koran is a book of hate and various other non politically correct views. I fundamentally disagree with Mr Weiner’s views but I see no reason for banning him from entering this country on that account.
Now Mr Weiner is no bar room pundit; he is an educated man with his own very firm opinions even though many of them are in my opinion misguided. Are his opinions offensive – undoubtedly to some, but that is not the test of who should be allowed to enter our country.
I find many of Mrs Smith’s policies highly offensive and have the effect of eroding the freedoms that it has taken centuries to establish. I find it offensive that she sought to pass a law detaining criminal suspects for 42 days without charge, that she supported the notion that innocent folks should have the DNA stored on a database operated by the police, and that she supports proposals to make all UK citizens have to prove their identity with identity cards, moving fundamentally from the principle that any activity you undertake is lawful, unless it is expressly against the law. I find it offensive that she is the member of a government that has created over 3,600 new criminal offences in a nation that is generally peaceable and law abiding.
When confronted by authority we are moving from being able to say “there is no law against it” to “what is the law that permits it?” That is a sea change in a democratic society. As such I find Mrs Smith more offensive and dangerous than Mr Weiner, even though I disagree with his opinions, in so far as I know them.
No doubt millions of people find Mr Weiner’s views offensive but he is, after all, simply acting as a horsefly, stinging and making a nuisance of himself over a wide range of issues, but in doing so he enables us to test received opinion and views, and this is always an important part of any democratic process. He does not espouse violence but argues from a democratic standpoint, testing his cases in the courts which are democratically established to order society. This is not a man who will board a plane with a bomb or who will rabble rouse a crowd to violence. His views may offend, but perhaps we are all too sensitive about being offended.
Like most journalists Mr Weiner has a propensity to litigate on matters of principle and he has threatened a lawsuit against Mrs Smith. Mrs Smith is far more dangerous to our democracy than Mr Weiner. There is no reason to ban him from the United Kingdom, but perhaps the good folk of Redditch, Mrs Smith’s constituency, may think about banning her from any future Parliament.

10 Responses

  1. Well said.

    And ironically, on the same day she denied entry permits to 16 people she considers (on my behalf) unfit to soil these lands – including a 79 yr old Baptist Pastor who’s spoken out against homosexuals – Dr Philip Nitschke, “Dr Death”, was allowed in to talk about assisted suicides and to sell his “testing kits”.

    Maybe Savage isn’t right-wing enough?

    • As far as I can ascertain virtually every orthodox traditional monotheist religion has holy writings condemning homosexuality – including the Christian religion, but we don’t ban the Pope, do we? You’ve illustrated the point perfectly. Let’s promote death!

      Robert

  2. Possibly, but it’s more likely to be a fundemental failure of the Home Offce to understand the principles that we (and they) should hold dear.

    Robert

  3. While Savage may not himself conspire to commit a crime or antisocial act, the real danger lies in his audience, a good number of which are racists, bigots, delinquents, or other social misfits. This lower echelon of society feeds upon the misinformation which Savage spews. So the problem is not so much Savage himself, it is the negative effect of what he says on those who take him seriously. While you and I both know that freedom of speech ought to be cherished, I don’t think this is what the framers of the Bill of Rights had in mind.

    • We already have laws to prevent people from inciting violence and hatred. You can’t fight ignorance with censorship – only with education and argument. I do not think our society needs to be protected from people like Savage. You can’t pick and choose when it comes to denying people the freedom to express their views.

      Robert

  4. Robert
    I couldn’t agree more

    Fred

  5. Пора переименовать блог, присвоив название связанное с доменами 🙂 может хватит про них?

  6. Wow,This guy is great.I just started listening to him and he is right on target.Micheal Savage, YEA thats who our country needs.Wake up America!

  7. WOW, Micheal Savage is just what Americans need.Wake up! What a helpful source of informatio.I will cut his hair any day.

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