Wednesday, May 06, 2009

The People of Great Britain are Better Off Today...

The People (and Government) of Great Britain have, for the last century-and-a-half been notoriously tolerant. From Karl Marx to the Mad North London Mullah with a prosthetic hook, Abu Hamza, from Glenn Hoddle to Simon Cowell, they let a whole lot pass upon their shores that other people simply wouldn't countenance, (and if they did, certainly would not do so for as long). And true to my political orientation, I think Britain, and the British people are not the worse-off for their open-mindedness and forbearance. So I am reasonably certain that, if I were consistent, I rightly should feel Britain has suffered some meaningful loss over Home Secretary Smith's slapping an entry ban on Michael Wiener, a.k.a. Michael Savage.



Yet, I don't. Paradoxically, despite my predisposition towards free speech, and general tolerance of most weird, eccentric, iconoclastic, ludicrous, subversive, even lunatic ideas, I am quite confident that Britain is better without the inciting bigotry and facist, racist, homophobic, hyperbolic rantings of Mr Savage-Wiener. Mrs.Smith's solution was simple and clinical. Probably not optimal, but effective. And so in one small way, (FTSE short-squeeze andincreasing risk appetites asides) the people of Great Britain are better off today than they were but a few days ago, save the elimination of Mr Savage-Wiener 's entertainment-value of which they will now be deprived.

32 comments:

Anonymous said...

predisposition towards free speech = oxymoron

Steve in said...

Yours is a very short-sighted opinion. You may personally find Mr. Savage's ideas repugnant, but in this action a precedent has been set that permits government officials decide which ideas are permissible to speak of in public. There is no principle standing between Mr. Savage's views and your own that can now be used to prevent the government from prohibiting your own opinions from being aired.

trexbean said...

I agree. For a far more nuanced and intelligent view, see Glenn Greenwald's always perspicacious blog at Salon.

poppers said...

No Steve you moron, read and learn Karl Popper, you have to be intolerant with intolerance or it will eat itself up and screw the tolerance system. Your opinion is short-sighted, the opinion from Cassandra reflects Karl Poppers view.

"Cassandra" said...

Yes I know what is "correct". And I know it is a slippery slope. And yet I cannot help feel (and feel IS the operative word here) what I do. I make no claim my opinion is this right, but all the same, I will thank Poppers for articulating most simplistically what I feel viscerally...

Anonymous said...

C -
"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to speak it" -Voltaire

Something tells me you wouldn't be espousing this view had the ban recipient been the vitriol-spewing, intolerant folk at Air America (Franken, Garafolo)

"Cassandra" said...

Anonymous 3:50am

I do not listen to Air America, but if their invective was based upon bigotry, with central tendencies that were facist, racist, and homophobic, I would categorically be "espousing this view". Do Mr Franken and Ms Garafolo fall within these bounds? (I think not from what I've seen and heard, but I could be wrong)

Anonymous said...

I really don't understand the whole situation. Correct me if I am wrong, but Savage is not even on the air in GB. I also read he had not been to GB in 20 years and did not have any immediate plans to visit GB.
So how did Savage pop up on the radar of Jacqui Smith? Did someone from her office visit the US, turn on the radio, and decide we must ban him?

I guess not.
From the telegraph:
"Staff across Whitehall, including the intelligence services, are apparently gathering information about individuals around the world who could be included on the list even though they do not know whether the person intends to travel to Britain."

Is there any judicial review of this policy; is there any way for a person to defend themselves. The whole thing seems a bit totalitarian.

I see that Savage also wrote some books. Do they intend to ban those as well or just burn them?

"Cassandra" said...

Anonymous 4:11

You make good points. And it would be more worrying (to me) were they mis-directed. I would point out again (eschewing the cheek of Simon Cowell) that Britain's track record is one of tolerance. They tolerated Mullah Hook until the level of hateful vitriol (sic) exceeded reasonable limits. To their credit, they are somewhat symmetrical in chopping BOTH tails. Britain, like America, is a multi-cultural society, and there are certain - I don't know the word - responsibilities, perhaps, incumbent upon people that are associated with freedom that relate to tolerance and respect. It didn't take much incendiary Hutu vitriol to combust the dry tinder between tribes. It is worth contemplating whether the responsibilities of the State with respect to such possibilities have changed in a modernity of overpopulation, economic stress and substantial competitive pressure upon the most basic of resources, making marginally wider latitudes prerequisite. I really do not know the answer, but I believe there is a great difference between fascistic and totalitarian use of The State for repression and what one might call a better intentioned use of The State to promote harmony relations amongst the community and avoid chaos that benefits precious few.

Anonymous said...

Cassandra,I am a huge fan of yours but it's disappointing to read your mention of Karl Marx in the company of such an idiotic mix. In pursuit of becoming blindly centrist you have pushed a non-event to attract an ilk of people who defend that Weiner guy to justify all nonsense and keep spewing their blabber.

James from Maryland said...

Savage is an a-hole, but your screed against him (racist, fascist, etc.) makes you little better. While real racists and fascist exist in the world, those terms are usually used by those on the PC left, to marginalize those with whom they disagree, i.e. for those whom the indoctrination didn't take. Savage/Weiner is just a non-PC bigmouth who likes to stir the pot. BFD.

Just curious: would you also keep out Ann Coulter or Rush Limbaugh?

"Cassandra" said...

Anonymous 9:55am

As to your charges (thanking you for the compliment), I am guilty as charged...sort of. Cowell and Hoddle were of course tongue-in-cheek light relief, but the mention of Marx is reasonable example of a State that provided refuge and confidently tolerated someone whose ideas and activities were clearly antithetical to the survival of the System and State as it was. As one who is tolerant, I was intrigued by the Home Secretary's break with an otherwise tolerant history. And while I doubt I would have taken the same action, I viscerally feel as the title suggests: Britain is better off without him. Optimally I would like to see Savage and his ideas confronted and disposed of in a way that reveals their shallowness.

James,
It seems likely that Savage-Weiner is a commercial bigot, racist, homophobe etc. rather than veritable believer. With an estimated audience of 10,000,000, whatever drives it, it is lucrative, so one should might rightly question motive. As I said above, I doubt I would have taken the same decision as Home Secretary (not wanting to have to define the line in the sand, and so as to not give him publicity), but insofar as she took the decision, I think Great Britain is better for the mere fact he is not there.

With respect to Coulter/Limbaugh, as sovereign over my own roof, I prefer not to invite them into my home - whether electronically or in person. Should the Home Secretary take the same decision with them, I would find Britain that much more habitable than it was prior.

I think the issue over how much intolerance to display towards intolerance in a democratic multi-cultural society in modernity is real, and not as simple as protection deemed universal by the 1st amendment. I don't know what that makes me, but I think it deserves continued discussion (the issue itself, that is, not what it makes me;)). The Europeans made a go of defining some such restrictions in the The European Convention on Human Rights, insofar as it permits restrictions
"in the interests of national security, territorial integrity or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, for the protection of the reputation or the rights of others, for preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence, or for maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary." (Wikipedia)

Paul said...

"in the interests of national security, territorial integrity or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, for the protection of the reputation or the rights of others, for preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence, or for maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary."

But this doesn't apply to the "Mad North London Mullah with a prosthetic hook, Abu Hamza", among others? Please . . .

A foolish post. Whatever Savage is he doesn't present ANY threat to the UK in this regard. This is all based on PURE intolerance and political correctness.

lewy14 said...

There is a sneaking suspicion that these days, the "conscience of a liberal", to borrow a phrase, is nothing more than a rationalization of power.

Nice to know where you stand on this.

There was a time when liberals understood principle.

I no longer consider myself one of you; I didn't leave the fold, you all left mine.

jdc said...

Anonymous - Voltaire never said that. Not even nearly.

"Cassandra" said...

Quite true JDC. See...

Voltaire: Would he have really defended your words to the death?.

It was written according to wikiquote's account by an english woman Evelyn Beatrice Hall who wrote under a man's nom de plume in a book entitled "The Friends of Voltaire". I'd never heard of her until this moment.

lewy14 said...

Cassandra,

What a small and tendentious refutation. Shall we now pull down Voltaire, lest he be used in defense of Michael Savage?

The primary quote from Voltaire seems to have been:

What a fuss over an omelettewhich is mighty ironic considering it fits the present case even better than the "defend to the death" quote.

burnside said...

What a lovely mess.

I think the Brits have always been madly fond of eccentrics, and of a good tease or the opportunity of visiting one on the unsuspecting.

So they must be enjoying the steam arising from this 'omelette' very much.

Secretary Smith is to be commended for presenting so broad a target, such an awkward moment, such discomfiture.

Anonymous said...

Apologies to the peanut gallery pedants for the Voltaire quote. The quote does, however, aptly capture Voltaire's spirit of individual liberty, freedom of thought, and toleration of different opinions, and it is thus attributed to him. But he did not confront his opponents with reciprocal censorship and intolerance of opinions, but head-on debate and rational counter-argument and logic, whether it was misguided political leadership after Frederick the Great sold out to power politics over enlightenment ideals or antiquated religious superstition that blamed the Lisbon earthquake on humankind or his brilliant rivalry with Rousseau to whom he wrote, "one feels like crawling on all fours after reading your work".

As far as Al Franken, does "Republicans are shameless d**ks. No, that’s not fair. Republican politicians are shameless d**ks." not strike you as somewhat intolerant or hurtful? Did you ever listen to his program on the now-bankrupt Air America? He made Bill O' Reilly look like Larry King in degree of abrasiveness. Garafolo just called Tea Party protesters "racists". I don't agree with Savage's views at all, but as i said, I will defend his right, along with Franken and Garafolo's, to spew vitriol and confront them with my own reason and logic. Savage is not telling people to go blow themselves up at a Saturday morning farmer's market. You need to think of the precdent you are setting and the potential unintended consequences society may incur when applauding such decisions.

Anonymous said...

Poor England. Once a great and proud nation, now a third world slum, where milions of nazi muslims do what they want. Great Britain, Belgium, Holland, Sweden are doomed nations, plundered by jihadists and third world migrants. The Michael Savage "affaire" is just another little nail in the coffin.

"Cassandra" said...

Anonymous 4:27am

Oh indeed, isn't it just a travesty that our shores and nations are being polluted by foriegn substances introduced into our precious bodily fluids.

"Tell me Jack, when did you first develop this ummm errr "theory"??!"

"Well, Mandrake...."

burnside said...

England? A third world slum? I suppose 'poor' France is similarly afflicted?

Cass, where do these people come from?

"Cassandra" said...

Arkansas? New Hampshire? The latter, with the motto: "Live Free or Die" amuingly adjacent to State Liquor Store signage also being the only state to repeal the designation of MLK day as a holiday...

Anonymous said...

"where milions of nazi muslims do what they want" & "England? A third world slum? I suppose 'poor' France is similarly afflicted?"
---Cassandra,you certainly have invoked (unwittingly) the wrath of a shadow readership that chooses a dormant existence unless given the opportunity to adumbrate whatever resides behind their tongue-tied suasions. Though I do agree that the Weiner guy's gutter-talk is no danger to the U.K. as compared to the Mad Mullah's (despite my failure to find any combustive quotes of his against any other religion).

Anonymous said...

What a harmful reaction to my kind words. I'm a good man and so generous that i gifted 500 seconds to your blog. What's wrong with Arkansas or Maine. Are you racist ? If i remeber, the last one has passe gay marriage. Be happy, now you can marry burnside. Anyway i'm not American, i'm Italian. Dr Strane Love is a great film. I agree, but along with the bodysnatchers it is about you, not me. You are a pod and the muslims and marxists bodys. are your masters.

Maybe i shall come back next year, just to show you some reality checks. Here we've got another beatiful day and party is not over yet.


So long, goodbye and fuck off

burnside said...

Cassandra:

The English were - and still are - remarkably good at exposing humbug to ridicule or even to fatal rebuttal. The Waughs, father and son, come to mind.

With a few exceptions, they're tolerant in law, but can become rebarbative in fact. This sensitivity as to what one may or may not say suggests tolerant speech may not address intolerant speech - it suppresses one side only.

Think I prefe cut and thrust. Solid thinking tends to survive it.

Anonymous said...

Your say that you are Italian; you sound more like Oriana Fallaci,which in itself explains your post-enlightenment literary downtrend.Yikes ! Go find yourself a Fox News blog.

Anonymous said...

It is difficult to hold up the land of ubiquitous CCTV and bans on public dancing (raves) as a haven of freedom.

Captcha word: cophisto

Anonymous said...

Condolences to the paisano :


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6-3X5hIFXYU

Anonymous said...

In the past, journalists would get banned or jailed for telling the truth. Now the journalists collect paychecks from media moguls more interested in something else than the truth. So now we have to rely on bloggers and independent radio personalities for some version of the truth. In time they too will become subsumed.

Enjoy your freedom, Britain. Thank goodness you're too busy raving over Man United these days or else you'd be more concerned about the fine Shetland wool being dragged down over your eyes.

TokyoTom said...

Cassandra, while I can understand the sentiments, why cheer on this type of nonsense by the UK government? Speech-based litmus tests infringe individual liberty, and their application in this case will almost certainly be counterproductive, as another blogger notes here:

"You can see Savage making out like a bandit for the next six months, on his own show, and stomping around the land, and dancing in the courts, which makes you wonder what Home Secretary Smith was on when she and her officials drew up the list, and then even more bizarrely made it public. Savage might even get a new book on the NY Times bestseller list, as he did with The Political Zoo, in which he cast himself as a zoo keeper and did caricatures of sundry political inhabitants of his zoo."Loons love the oxygen this kind of exposure gives them."http://themichaelduffyfiles.blogspot.com/2009/05/michael-savage-home-secretary-smith.html

Presumably you weren`t happy when the Bush administration blocked Cat Stevens from travelling to the US?

Anonymous said...

To see a slave / subject of Great Britain subject someone to a Bill of Attainder is both sickening and sad. Your culture is a walking dead and is currently being replaced by radical Islam with a peppering of Russian Oligarch land/business ownership. Your last rungs of power are the banking cabal.