Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The Pontificating Bishop Hill

Sorry, but I just found this a bit difficult to swallow (from the comments page on my recent piece on the BNP Ballerina:

ME: Would the same people mention this view about Simone Clarke to racial minorities who feel threatened by the BNP?

BISHOP HILL: The feelings of minorities, or of the people who defend Simone Clarke, are irrelevant to the issue of whether someone should be persecuted for their political views in a state-owned business. Your own party is making huge steps to bring about a big brother state, and to take away our civil liberties. I feel threatened by it, really I do.OK if we start harassing you?

With respect I think this is slightly out of proportion, but what I found offensive was his way of trying to box this issue. The persecution of minorities is never irrelevant and I think that demonising the government in comparison is something I find a tad offensive. Ask yourself which is more immoral. An immigrant family feeling the heat of seeing BNP campaigners around the estate they live in and feeling scared and that being seen as irrelevant, compared to the use of ID Cards for example! I am sure this is not what Bishop Hill sees as his argument (at least I hope not) but that is exactly how many others may well see it.


Bishop Hill said...

There was an element of hyperbole, I grant you, but the point I made is right. If you allow the feelings of the participants to enter into the case, you are likely to end up with restrictions of freedom of speech, which will hurt both sides of the argument.

I phrased the first sentence very carefully. The feelings of the minorities are irrelevant to the question of whether restrictions on free speech are desirable. If you don't accept this, then you are in danger of arguing that an argument can be silenced with an accusation of hurt feelings.

They are not irrelevant to cases of harassment or violence. But we have laws to protect people against this.

Paul Burgin said...

In which case I apologise, although whilst I agree with you on that point hurt feelings have to be considered, although not automatically accepted and it is important to note that in this case it is more than hurt feelings, it is also to do with fear of safety
Apologies also for the hasty post this morning. I pride myself on not writing just from gut feeling and every so often that can get compromised as in this case.