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Following the recent attack on a mosque in New Zealand by a white supremacist terrorist, I was asked by a national TV network in the UK to appear on a live show to give my perspective as a former white supremacist. (I served two prison sentences for “inciting racial hatred” back in the 1980s.) I was happy to do so. More recently, the same TV network asked me to appear live to comment on Facebook’s decision to ban the “far right.” “Presumably you agree with the ban,” the representative of the TV network continued, “and do you think other tech companies should follow them?” My reply was no doubt a disappointment:
Echoing the words of Voltaire that “I might despise what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it,” I do not agree with the banning of political perspectives from the public square. It’s a slippery slope. Today it’s the far right; tomorrow it’s critics of abortion; the day after tomorrow it’s “anti-semites” in the Labour Party and “anti-Islamists” in the Conservative Party. If an organization, on either extreme of the spectrum, advocates acts of terrorism, it should be banned for its advocacy of such acts, but an organization should not be banned because we find its policies distasteful. I will not be party to the banning of parties with which we disagree.
Defence - Speech - Involvement - Discussion - Correspondent
I added that “I presume that my defence of free speech will preclude my involvement in your discussion.” My correspondent replied that the nature of my reply was “unexpected,” and the invitation to participate in the discussion was withdrawn.
This set me thinking. It was clear that the TV company was not interested in a discussion on the rights or wrongs of Facebook’s decision to ban the “far right,” including any discussion of its...
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