The right to express an opinion – even offensive or upsetting – is the cornerstone of any liberal democracy.
The unconstrained debate, the engagement with conflicting ideas, the exchange of thought-provoking viewpoints in the pursuit of knowledge…all of this has propelled our nation forward.
Yet, two centuries after the Age of Enlightenment, this grand tradition is rapidly being replaced by a pernicious culture of dogmatism and censorship. Unfortunately, freedom of speech is under attack like never before in modern times.
We risk sliding back into a dark era of puritanism, where an intolerant, self-proclaimed mob silences those who voice uncomfortable opinions and question woke orthodoxy.
On topics ranging from gender and race to Brexit, heritage and history, anyone who openly disagrees with the distorted worldview of this left-wing thought police is being treated as a dangerous heretic who must to be punished.
The Prime Minister (pictured on Thursday) has made waves with a laudable foray into the transgender debate, openly saying men and women are biologically different For the vast majority of Britain, it’s just common sense
Transgressors are metaphorically burned at the stake – marginalized, demonized, “cancelled”.
The appeal of the victims is endless. Novelist Sir Philip Pullman sued as president of the Society of Authors for supporting colleague accused of racial stereotyping…JK Rowling attacked for standing up for women’s rights against transgender activists…prominent professor of Oxford Nigel Biggar victim of daring to suggest that the British Empire was not all bad…
Naturally, the Awakened Squad doesn’t limit its self-righteous anger to famous and distinguished people. Many ordinary people also pay the price for holding “wrong” opinions – losing their jobs or official positions, even when probed by the police. The social implications of this witch hunt are deeply chilling.
People are afraid to voice opinions – even those they know to be true – for fear of being labeled “racist”, “bigot” or “transphobic”. Ideology, however distorted, triumphs over reality.
So the Mail wholeheartedly welcomes Dominic Raab’s promise to launch a free speech revolution. Invoking the spirit of free expression champions such as John Stuart Mill, the Justice Secretary will strengthen safeguards for people to speak up.
By replacing Labour’s hated Human Rights Act with a British Bill of Rights, free speech will become a legal ‘trump card’, preventing the malignant closure of debate.
As Mr. Raab puts it in these pages: “The parameters of free speech and democratic debate are being eroded, whether it’s the question of privacy or whether it’s mistakes and political correctness.” Crucially, it will also protect the ability of the press to investigate corruption, injustice and hypocrisy without fear of being muzzled by the wealthy.
(And while promising to defend free speech, shouldn’t the government revisit the Online Safety Bill which, while trying to tackle harmful internet content, threatens to stifle the debate giving censorship powers to social media companies?)
Novelist Sir Philip Pullman (above) was ousted as president of the Society of Authors for supporting a colleague accused of racial stereotyping
Still, this plan for a freer Britain is a good start. But Boris Johnson is expected to use it as a launching pad to pursue a fierce ‘war on revival’.
The prime minister has made waves with a laudable foray into the transgender debate, openly asserting that men and women are biologically different. For the vast majority of Britain, it’s just common sense.
Yet the devious Sir Keir Starmer refuses to define what a woman is for fear of upsetting a tiny but strident minority of activists. How can voters trust a politician who cannot even recognize the most basic realities of human biology?
The truth is that by emphasizing the waking obsessions that 99.9% of people care about, Labor is dramatically out of step with working-class and middle-class voters.
Yet these insurgent ideologies are sweeping across institutions at breakneck speed, from Whitehall and town halls to universities and the NHS.
The Mail wholeheartedly welcomes Dominic Raab’s promise to launch a free speech revolution. Invoking the spirit of free expression champions such as John Stuart Mill, the Justice Secretary will strengthen safeguards for people to speak out
How else could a UK hospital put itself in the dastardly position of telling the police that a patient couldn’t have been raped because there were no men on the ward (the assailant was in fact transgender)?
How else could male-bodied trans prisoner Karen White be transferred to a women’s prison, where fellow inmates were sexually assaulted?
In the living rooms of the well-meaning metropolitan, such changes can be quite satisfying. For millions of ordinary people (especially women who want single-sex spaces), they are disturbed.
Of course, every person believes in protecting minority rights, which should be handled with sensitivity and care.
And the limits of decency and the law must be respected by even the most ardent defenders of free speech.
But we must not allow free speech to be eroded by screaming, ignorant mobs, terrified of open debate, spitting bile and trying to ‘nullify’ anyone who doesn’t buy into their politically correct groupthink. .
Over the past decade, successive Conservative governments have gone astray by paying too much attention to the self-proclaimed gatekeepers of “isms” and “phobias”.
If ministers stand up to them, they won’t just save a cornerstone of our democracy. They may find him winning at the polls.