Restrictions to Freedom of Speech are a necessary element of a civilised society

Children of my baby boomer generation were brought up to believe that whilst sticks and stones might break our bones words would never hurt us. When at school I was name-called constantly for various perceived defects of character or appearance. I didn’t believe the aphorism then, and I don’t believe it now.

There was nothing “preposterous” about the claim that the the murder of Jo Cox was in part a consequence of the febrile political climate of the time. The language and lies and, especially, the images used by the “Leave” campaign created a context within which the semi rational preached “Sovereignty” but the malicious xenophobia – or worse. A deranged person felt empowered by that climate to murder an MP. There was clear cause and effect.

Language matters. There are words in common parlance fifty years ago which if I used them in the “Comment” section of The Times would lead to the whole comment being removed. But the Prime Minister can attack those of us who argue for greater fairness in society as “Do-Gooders” with impunity. Words do hurt , sometimes fatally.

Freedom of Speech needs rules and laws to govern it – as most social media realises when they moderate public postings. It’s called “moderation” a handy word actually. You can be strong in your messages but moderate in your language. Persuade me of your views with reason and logic without insulting me or name-calling.

One thought on “Restrictions to Freedom of Speech are a necessary element of a civilised society

  1. The murder of Jo Cox was and will always be one of the greatest tragedies of the leave campaign. The anti-European and nationalist sentiment that Farage, Arron Banks and Johnson & Co stirred up caused her untimely death. They are all responsible. You don’t have to wield the knife to carry that burden. Yet none of them has acknowledged their guilt and they never will. They knew how to get the disaffected in society to act and vote for their lies. They had to play the nationalist card to a far-right audience. They cared nothing for the consequences.
    Jo Cox was a truly wonderful lady.
    Everyone in Britain lost a great deal that day.


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