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November 22, 2006

U.K. down for the count?

Whatever problems we see in our own country, they're already worse in England.

Here's a depressing tale from across the pond. It doesn't involve beheadings, or even general mayhem, but it does show how far the establishment left has gone in support of suppressing speech -- even temperate criticism of Muslims. Sir Harold Evans, writing in the New York Sun, via Melanie Phillips, via Dan Collins at protein wisdom. (By the way, I've often wondered whether Dan Collins, the most prolific of the guest-bloggers, is actually Jeff Goldstein's evil twin. Or whether, perhaps, it's the other way around.)

An excerpt:

When I spoke at the Hay-on-Wye literary festival a couple of years back and criticized newspapers that headlined suicide bombers as martyrs, I was told by two angry leading intellectuals that I had lived too long in America.

Something similar happened at this year's Hay-on-Wye festival, sponsored by the Guardian, where a five-person panel discussed "Are there are any limits to free speech?" One of the Muslim panelists said if anyone offended his religion, he would strike him. A lawyer, Anthony Julius, responded that Jews had lived as minorities under two powerful hegemonies, Christian and Muslim, and had been obliged to learn how to deal nonviolently with offense caused to them by the sacred scriptures of both. He started by referring to an anti-Semitic passage in the New Testament — which passed without comment. But when he began to list the passages in the Koran that denigrate Jews, describing them as monkeys and pigs, the panelists went ballistic. One of them, Madeline Bunting of the Guardian, put her hand over the microphone and said words to the effect, "I am not going to sit here and listen to any criticisms of Muslims." She was cheered, and not one of the journalists in the audience from right or left uttered a word about free speech — not hate speech, mind you, but free speech of a moderate nature.
This sounds so familiar to me. Back 35 years ago, the left threw its lot in with the Black Panthers. No matter how violent they showed themselves to be, it was the rest of society that was at fault.

The difference, I suppose, is that Huey Newton never tried to get nuclear weapons.