Friday, August 18, 2006

More 4 News Debate on Freedom of Speech: Dale v MPAC

Prepare for a Mrs Merton style heated debate this evening when I go on More4 News to debate the Inigo Wilson situation with someone from the Muslim Public Affairs Committee. Feel free to use the Comments section to suggest succinct lines of attack/defence I might usefully deploy. Perhaps Verity might be encouraged to abstain though...! More4 News is on at 8pm.

UPDATE: 23.22pm Thanks for all the suggestions. Very helpful. I reckon it was a score draw. Ashgar Bukhari was a lot less excitable than his previous media appearances, but with only 4 minutes how is it possible to develop a real debate? I made some of the points I had intended to, but didn't get the first or the last word. Message to self: must do better.

More media tarting this weekend...

Saturday: BBC News 24 paper review 11.45pm
Sunday: Sky News Sunrise feature on blogging
Sunday 8.15am BBC Asian Network
Sunday 10.45am Sky News Sunday with Adam Boulton taling about John Prescott with...Steve Pound MP!

105 comments:

tapestry said...

Comedy should be a way to link up between cultures - or music, or art, and so on.

Do Moslems have a sense of humour? Of course they must. What is it? Could we share enjoyment with Moslem humour? It would be a helpful way to bring our cultures closer to an understanding.

Theo Spark said...

How many Muslim's live in countries with freedom of speech?

Peter Hitchens said...

Maybe should ask the individual who appointed him to speak out on behalf of muslims?
What mandate has he?
I will have a little guess, sweet FA!
It's probably 3 or four berks in their bedrooms, rather like the regularly quoted norman Brennan of the victims of crime trust
chairman: norman brennan
membership: norman brennan
nobody else ,just good old Norman always ready with a foaming at the mouth quote.
Same here only with beards and fancy dress.

Cranmer said...

Mr Dale,

If MPAC put up Mr Ashgar, just sit quietly, say very little, at let him hang himself.

If they put up a reasonable, temperate, and persuasive Mohammedan, try to extract definitions of 'racism' and 'Islamophobia' (MPAC's 'charges' against Mr Wilson). Insist that you cannot engage in rational discussion if you can't agree on the definition of words.

As His Grace has said on his venerable blog, since Muslims are not a race, it cannot be racism. And since MPAC define Islamophobia as an 'irrational fear of Islam', ask them for the word to describe those who fear Islam for entirely rational reasons.

His Grace suspects this will be a little beyond whomever they put up to debate with you, so ask them why they have used Nazi material on their website, or why they have been banned by the National Union of Students. According to some Muslims who have posted on CH, they are hardly considered to be a moderate voice of reason within the Muslim 'coomunity' in the UK, and their campaign against Mr Wilson is damaging the public perception of their professed faith. In short, their agenda is a public relations disaster for them.

Rick said...

Don't rely on logic or rationality - these guys go emotive and spray innunendo and confuse the issue.

Stick to free speech - 1st amendment stuff and push your counterparty onto Satanic Verses.

Point out the taboo in Europe on burning books - the monument in Berlin and Heine's comment "Those who begin by burning books will end by burning people"

You have to expose him as intolerant ranter and out to close down any criticism of Islam.

Listen to that clip Guido posted where the loon went on about Jews.........you need to make these nutscases look very bad and very dangerous

Sir Bentley Pauncefoot said...

It strikes me that MPAC are getting what was referred to, in the days of That Great Lady, as the Oxygen of Publicity, and I'm by no means certain that this is a Good Thing.

Happily, it's only More4 on a Friday evening so no-one will see.

Even so, best have a chat with Cranmer; a limbering-up session with His Grace should give you a few theological googlies to bowl.

I'm with Verity. said...

Why don't you just reach across the table and belt the idiot right in the face? At the very least it'd be hilarious. There's nothing better than slapstick comedy.

Tom said...

Attack: Start the proceedings with Shalom….!

Defence: An umbrella, a sponge and watch the spittle fly.

leon said...

How about why are they trying to make political capital out this issue? Or exactly who are they representative of? What legitimacy do they have etc.

Read: http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/719

And PP in general for some good briefings on them and idiots like em.;)

Andrew Woodman said...

Sense of humour bypass might be a phrase to use.

Buster George said...

Iain

You could ask how they would react to a non violent christian crusade,

After all they suport a non violent jihad.

Equal rights and all that.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, it is already too late for this particular debate!

Why don't you instead start the debate of the impending catastrophe that will undoubtedly arise when the 'Sharia' Party is formally launched. At that point ALL Muslims will vote for them; the turnout of Muslim voters in the relevant constituencies will be 100%, and it will not be long before this is the largest single party in Parliament - and you know what that will mean!!! And don't think that the Labour Party or the Tories will have any Muslim M.P.'s at that stage either!!!!!!!

The only upside will be that Sheiks Straw, Galloway, et al won't be able to poll a sausage!

Austin Rathe said...

Stick to home territory, this is a free country and people can say what they damn well like.

They'll probably try and push you into agreeing with the specific comments made on the lexicon, it's quite acceptable IMO to say “the comments made were flippant nonsense. Of course I don't think that everyone who opposes terrorism is an islamophobe, but if someone else believes that then they have the right to say so. And by the way it was only a joke, for gods sake”.

Antony Calvert said...

In 2004 MPAC endorsed the Conservative candidate for the Leicester South by-election.

They backed a candidate then who believed as passionately about freedom of speech and expression as anyone could do.

What has changed in 2 years?

Drew B's take on tech PR said...

Iain - the PR community has been discussing this incident at great length. I would say that a press officer like Inigo should understand *inside out* what should and shouldn't be said on a brand's blog, or on any blog under a brand's name. Inigo has broken one of the basic rules of engagement by blogging such controversial views as an Orange employee whose job it is to manage community affairs, and it has caused a ripple within the industry. Orange directly received complaints about Inigo's blog.

Here are the key issues at stake, in my humble opinion, and issues like this should be central to any organisation's PR guidelines:

1. Clarify the difference between freedom of speech vs putting forward one's own opinions as those of the employer
2. If one's views are in conflict with one's job description, they might not be put to best use in a public forum such as the blogosphere. Does Inigo's opinion on this matter impact how his customers percieve him in and his ability to adequately carry out his job?
3. Should other parties or organisations Inigo is involved with also take this matter into their hands?

Food for thought perhaps. I look forward to catching your apearance on More 4.

Drew

FellDweller said...

Iain,

You might like to get him to comment on this on their website:

http://www.mpacuk.org/content/view/2465/35/

specifically:

"MPAC’s world view is simple. We are at War. MPAC believes every Muslim man woman and child is a target in that War. And we believe that it is FARD upon every capable Adult to defend the Ummah.

We also adopt the position that every Muslim who does not participate in that war is committing a crime"

Anonymous said...

Let's play Devil's advocate:

Q1 If the article was unatributed, would it have received the same attention?

Q2 If it was attributed to someone not employed by a high profile business, ...?

Q3 If it was attributed to a femail author employed by high profile business, ...?

Q4 If it was not so clearly attributable to a white, middle class male employed by a high profile business, ...?

Anonymous said...

The nutter debating with Sam Coates yesterday, said in regards to enteries on CH: “Look at the comments on the site, to see the kind of people they are pandering too.”

I suggest that you have a look at their website and see what kind of comments they have posted on their site. http://www.mpacuk.org/

Also their was a report produced by one of think tanks about islamic extremists in universities, which featured the activities of MPACUK. In fact NUS believes MPACUK to be so extreme that they are banned from all universites.

C4' said...

Heres's mine.

"If a Muslim made similar remarks about Christianity, would you demand the same scantions against that Muslim as you did against Mr. Wilson?"

Slim Jim said...

Iain, I think the debate should focus on the main issue here - Freedom of Speech. It is indeed a double-edged sword. Perhaps you would like to remind the MPAC peep that this right was exercised (abused?) by Muslims in THAT demonstration in London over the Danish cartoons recently. Remember the baby with the hat sporting the words, 'I love Al-Quaeda'? Ask them how many people were arrested for racist hate crimes...best of luck.

john prescott's secret lovechild said...

Have you had a look at the MPAC discussion forums Iain? They are filled with hate, and far worse than what Inigo wrote. Every time an anti-semitic or homophobic comment goes up on there, or one that glorifies, encourages, or excuses terrorism in any way, you should threaten to track down the poster through the use of IP addresses and publish their name on your blog. You should then start your own campaign to have these people fired from their jobs.

gunslinger said...

You should be in for some fun - check out Guido's post of Round 1 here

AnyonebutBlair said...

Lines of attack:
1) Playing the man (and his wife & child) and not the ball
2) The comments were meant as a joke and were ironic and not racist
3) Implicit repression by attacking his employment when he wrote something that MPAC didn't like - quite what this has got to do with hie employment is highly questionable
4) MPAC itself is hardly a moderate organisation - it has been "no platformed" by the NHS and has published pro-Hamas literature and statements - this is in itself a virantly racist and anti-semitic organisation

mrs merton said...

If it's Bungla Boy,you might ask him what he thought he was going to gain by issuing death threats against Charles Johnson. A follow-up question could be, "And has Scotland Yard been round to see you regarding this threat, as Charles reported it to them?"

Another question might be whether he is still posting through the Reuters bureau in Sweden. And, when he first started doing this, did he realise that Charles Johnson is a technical forensic wizard on the internet. How did he feel when he found out?

If it's Abdul the Bulbul Bari, could you ask him when he is going to replace that wig, please? And what intersted him about a job in the rolling-in-money-from-where-we-can-only-guess MCAP?

dizzy said...

Good luck old bean. If it;s the guy from MPAC that was on BBC Asiain network with Sam, I suggest you start by saying "I hate everyone" and thus ruin all his "arguments"

Rog said...

Why are MPACUK "activists" trying to find out where Inigo lives?

Post #114, for instance.

Why are they determined to take a tiny piece of the original article, the "Lefty Lexicon" out of context and agitate a campaign over it?

Does your "opponenent" even know what the article was about?

I doubt it.

Why have MPACUK been banned from having a platform anywhere by the National Union of Students - hardly a right wing anti-muslim conspiracy.

Fish. Barrel. Open fire.

Steve G said...

Not sure if this counts as a line of attack/defence, but it's a new twist to the tale of which you might want to be aware. As both Stuart Bruce and Sunny have pointed out, it's entirely possible that another one of the definitions got him into trouble (Sunny reckons he has inside information to this effect) and MPAC don't have as much clout as they might think. To quote Stuart Bruce,

'A community affairs manager is a company's public persona and it therefore is of concern if his publicly expressed opinions are totally at odds with the company's corporate values, which in Orange's case include believing "the success of any company lies in the quality, commitment and diversity of its people".

'A community affairs manager is also usually responsible for community consultation regarding the new mobile phone masts sites. It is therefore alarming that Inigo Wilson says "Consultation - a formal system for ignoring public views while patronising them at the same time." Even if you are charitable enough to ignore his racist comments, then this one alone highlights his unsuitability for doing the job he is employed to.

'It's his unsuitability for public relations or community affairs which is the reason why Orange had to act as it did and it's nothing to do with curtailing free speech or bowing down to pressure from MPAC.'

If we assume, just for the sake of argument, that Orange took the (not unreasonable) view that Mr Wilson's doubtless jocular comments on 'consultation' might come back and haunt him whenever he claimed Orange were committed to 'consulting' the locals about whether they'd like a new phone mast, are they being unreasonable in doubting his suitability for his present job?

strapworld said...

I would take a general stand. Firstly I would be critical of the BAA and the failure of government
to use what troops we have left....even private security companies...the special constabulary... to 'police' the passengers passing through the security checks. The cancellation of flights and the massive delays only helped the terrorists case!

I would then, should the question posed by that ridiculous muslim police officer "an offence of travelling asian" be put to you...ask the question of the muslim. "If the suspect is black do you stop white people just for political correctness and if the suspect is asian likewise?"

If the muslim gentleman carries on and cannot accept the point. Be fearless and tell him that he has to face up to reality. He would object if he was stopped if they were looking for a white suspect!

Not many, if any, muslims /asians were stopped during the Irish troubles!

Good Luck

Javelin said...

Turn the tables on him, and force his hand. Out-serious him, and get him to choose the side of your definition.

Say, these jokes have a very serious purpose. It makes the point that a *surprisingly* large section of the muslim community are not condeming mass murder by other muslims.

The problem with a minority cultural group is that they initially all take the same cultural stance. As British Muslims culture 'matures' a range of various view have emerge - the Extremist Muslims are alarmingly large in number. British Muslims are going though these growth pains and every British Muslim must decide not just that they are British Muslims, but openly say whether they are Peaceful British Muslims or Extremist British Muslims. The Peaceful British Muslims will receive your support.

Samuel Coates said...

Do you know which MPAC guy will be on? If it is Ashgar Bakhari you will rip his arguments to shreds (if he doesn't rip them to shreds first).

What time?

I've just declined Radio 5 - radio shows aren't my forte.

raincoaster said...

Verity, he's picking on you! Really, limiting her freedom of speech is a terrible example to set. Now she's one of the oppressed minorities.

Monty said...

Hopefully Iain you can develop something from these questions to the MPAC (obviously not for publication here in case they are reading your prep):

1) Why have you set yourself up as the thought police, going out of your way to identify Mr Wilson's employers then complaining to them and encouraging others to do the same in the hope he loses his job?

2) Is it because you are so worried about losing a public debate about the use of language that you have sought to silence all views that oppose your own by de facto censorship?

3) In what way are Mr Wilson's satirical observations on the use of words to mean something than their original meaning racist or islamophobic?

4) How do you square seeking to use the defence of free speech when making anti-semitic comments with your attempts to silence Mr Wilson's comments? Is free speech a one way street now?

5) How would you like it if someone did not like what you wrote in your own time, searched to find out who your employer was then encouraged the public to blackmail them into sacking you?

6) You have described journalist John Ware as an Islamophobe because of his investigative work into the leadership in the UK Muslim community and more recently because of his investigation into Interpal's use of charity funds. Is everyone who questions the behaviour of someone who happens to be Muslim an Islamophone?

7) You say MPACUK is trying to contribute to the struggle for human rights worldwide and a better society in Britain through peaceful and democratic methods. How does blackmail and the silencing of dissent fit into your vision of a better society?

Hopefully this will be of some use. Cheers.

Fruning Graplecard said...

I wish you all the best and shall watch with interest.

In the meantime, Cranmer's blog has some erudite comments on the matter, including, ahem, mine.

yours

Graplecard

Anonymous said...

The issue of faux moderation amoungst Muslim 'leaders' (who are unelected - so how can they be 'speaking' for Muslims anyway) is worthy of challenge.

Daniel Pipes has some an interesting article, you may like to use as a source. Very few Muslim 'leaders' get challenged on the specifics. This list of questions, based upon the problematic parts of Islamic Jurisprudence is worth taking on board....

- Violence : Do you condone or condemn the Palestinians, Chechens, and Kashmiris who give up their lives to kill enemy civilians? Will you condemn by name as terrorist groups such organizations as Abu Sayyaf, Al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya, Groupe islamique arm\'e9e, Hamas, Harakat ul-Mujahidin, Hizbullah, Islamic Jihad, Jaish-e-Mohammed, Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, and Al-Qaeda?

- Modernity : Should Muslim women have equal rights with men (for example, in inheritance shares or court testimony)? Is jihad , meaning a form of warfare, acceptable in today's world? Do you accept the validity of other religions? Do Muslims have anything to learn from the West?

- Secularism : Should non-Muslims enjoy completely equal civil rights with Muslims? May Muslims convert to other religions? May Muslim women marry non-Muslim men? Do you accept the laws of a majority non-Muslim government and unreservedly pledge allegiance to that government? Should the state impose religious observance, such as banning food service during Ramadan? When Islamic customs conflict with secular laws (e.g., covering the face for drivers' license pictures), which should give way?

- Islamic pluralism : Are Sufis and Shi'ites fully legitimate Muslims? Do you see Muslims who disagree with you as having fallen into unbelief? Is takfir (condemning fellow Muslims one has disagreements with as unbelievers) an acceptable practice?

- Self-criticism : Do you accept the legitimacy of scholarly inquiry into the origins of Islam? Who was responsible for the 9/11 suicide hijackings?

- Defense against militant Islam : Do you accept enhanced security measures to fight militant Islam, even if this means extra scrutiny of yourself (for example, at airline security)? Do you agree that institutions accused of funding terrorism should be shut down, or do you see this a symptom of bias?

- Goals in the West : Do you accept that Western countries are majority-Christian and secular or do you seek to transform them into majority-Muslim countries ruled by Islamic law?


read
the whole article


Nick Good (Brit in South Africa)

Guido Fawkes Esq. said...

Ask them simply do they believe in the absolute right to freedom of speech?

max said...

Print this screen grab:
http://hurryupharry.bloghouse.net/archives/mpacukneonazilink19uy.gif

Taken from here:
http://hurryupharry.bloghouse.net/archives/mpacukneonazilink19uy.gif

And maybe this one as well:
http://hurryupharry.bloghouse.net/archives/2006/02/08/mpac_lifts_more_material_from_neo_nazi_website.php

Then Quote this part from the letter MPACUK sent: "I was dismayed to see that he has written islamaphobic and racist comments which were they anti-semitic as opposed to against muslims would result in immediate condemnation from you. I trust you will deal with this complaint fairly and condemn such comments" and ask him if he doesn't think it's rich to complain about racism when his own organization shares photos and ideology with neo nazi websites. Then ask him if he condemns it.

Platform9 said...

They always roll out the same guy Iain.

He's pretty sharp, but has zero sense of humour (what a surprise) and get's wound up very easily.

Read him his rights, and tell him ours. Only wish I had the channel!

john prescott's secret lovechild said...

As per my previous comment. Scrap that. have you heard Asghar Bukhari on the BBC Asian network? Link on Guido. Keep quiet and let MPAC dig their own hole.

Harry Basset said...

Who formed/elected MPAC, what authority do they have, how are they funded?

Alex Agius. said...

The piece that MPAC object to do not reflect the views of Inigo Wilson. The piece in question is a fictional, satirical take on New Labour management speak and spin and how it is used to silence people who take a different point of view. This is something MPAC are now doing themselves by throwing around unjustified accusations of islamophobia and racism.

The name of Inigo Wilson employer was not mentioned in the piece MPAC object to. Orange has only become involved in this because MPAC members decided to punish Inigo Wilson for writing the piece in question by tracking down his employer and launching a campaign against Orange and Inigo Wilson with the aim to see Inigo Wilson lose his job.

MPAC members have been encouraged on the MPAC website to write complaints using false names, it is a well know/established trick MPAC employs.

MPAC members have attempted to find out the address Inigo Wilsons family home to allow them to further punish him.

People should not lose there job or become the subject of hate campaigns if they have a point of view you do not agree with.

javelin said...

Just wrote this to Stuart jackson at Orange - stuart.jackson@orange.co.uk

Stuart,

I am to complain of your treatment of Inigo Wilson because it appears you suspended him before undertaking objective analysis of his jokes, and you actions appear to be siding with racists. For example the Islamaphobia jokes appears to me to be a very British attempt to point out that a surprisingly a large proportion of British Muslims take a racist view of not openly condemning mass murder by terrorists – as long as they are Muslims. It appears you have sided with the racists here by suspending Inigo Wilson. In my conversations with colleagues (I work as a contractor in the City for one of your major shareholders) we have all taken the view that your actions were racist and are not acceptable under the current threat levels to the business community here in the City.

Sincerely

Javelin

griswold said...

MPAC did not understand the post by Wilson - possibly because their understanding of the language is not that good or certain words caused a red mist to descend. Suggest you try to explain parody to them.
On a more serious note. Reaf S Schwartz in Speccie. This will inform you of the enemy in our midst. Its the Wahhabi infiltration funded by Saudi money. What the ruling family know is that one day their support of this faction will deprive them of their Kingdom and the west of 260bn bbls oil reserves at which point the MPAC will run UK. Better play the long game tonight by being polite and agreeing wih all the guff that these fellow travellers(of Bin Laden) spout.

Pete said...

Sunday 17th April The Mail on Sunday:

"Charles Kennedy was last night embroiled in a row over a vicious anti-Jewish smear campaign against a Blair-babe MP. The Liberal Democrat leader faced calls to sack one of his Parliamentary candidates over his links to the Muslim Public Affairs Council, a racist Muslim group which urged voters to reject his Labour rival because she was a ‘Jew’. The Mail on Sunday has been given copies of flyers distributed in Rochdale by the Muslim organisation which are explicitly anti-Semitic."

Ironic that MPAC attacks Wilson for 'racism' yet at the last election they ran a campaign against an MP on the basis of her race/religion.

http://forum.mpacuk.org/showthread.php?t=13087 posts like this in their forums show their agenda. You can probably find stuff from these. There is bound to be something controversial or racist that has been said and they have supported in the name of free speech.

Pete said...

Sunday 17th April The Mail on Sunday:

"Charles Kennedy was last night embroiled in a row over a vicious anti-Jewish smear campaign against a Blair-babe MP. The Liberal Democrat leader faced calls to sack one of his Parliamentary candidates over his links to the Muslim Public Affairs Council, a racist Muslim group which urged voters to reject his Labour rival because she was a ‘Jew’. The Mail on Sunday has been given copies of flyers distributed in Rochdale by the Muslim organisation which are explicitly anti-Semitic."

Ironic that MPAC attacks Wilson for 'racism' yet at the last election they ran a campaign against an MP on the basis of her race/religion.

http://forum.mpacuk.org/showthread.php?t=13087 posts like this in their forums show their agenda. You can probably find stuff from these. There is bound to be something controversial or racist that has been said and they have supported in the name of free speech.

Bulldog said...

Better watch what you say fella.

You don;t want any fatwas against you.

I hear Salmon's still in hiding even now.

Anonymous said...

Asghar Bukhari from MPACUK on SKY NEWS - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AvOI7wW62P8&eurl=

Other links to posts about the 'extreme' views of MPAC

http://www.littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/?entry=16914&only

http://hurryupharry.bloghouse.net/archives/2005/08/03/mpacuk_neonazis_share_antisemitic_picture.php

Croydonian said...

If it is the same person as on the BBC Asian network clip Guido has linked to, all you will have to do is sit back and wait for him to self-destruct.

You might also care to read this story at MPAC

Monty said...

Iain, you may already have this one...

Melanie Phillips writes in Londonistan about the 2005 General Election campaign:

'Some Labour MPs were the targets of gross intimidation by Muslims who decided they were not acting in Muslim interests and accordingly organised campaigns to unseat them. Lorna Fitzsimons, for example, the Labour MP for the northern town of Rochdale, lost her seat to the Liberal Democrats after the Muslim Public Affairs Committee (MPACUK) sponsored hundreds of leaflets that wrongly claimed she was Jewish and called on resident to vote against her. One leaflet said: "Lorna Fitzsimons is an ardent Zionist and a member of the most powerful anti-Muslim lobby in the world, the Israel lobby."

'Told that she was not Jewish, MPACUK issued a statement apologising for any "offence" caused.' (reported in Manchester Evening News on 19 April 2005.

That apology demonstrates they think that calling someone Jewish is supposed to be offensive and that was their aim. They are anti-semitic serial campaigners.

Ask them why Richard Madeley is the target of one of their campaigns.

Cheers and good luck this evening. I'll be watching.

Monty

Rickytshirt said...

The central point is that the article is in no way Islamophobic or racist. It is a reaction to the fact that those who dare to critisize anything remotely to do with Islam is immediately branded as 'Islamaphobic'.

MPAC's reaction to the article proves this beyond doubt.

He/she may try to turn the debate on to race, foreign policy, Israel etc. If this happens waste no time in putting your foot down and getting back to the issue in hand.

Hope this helps!

Monty said...

Interweb is playing up...

Raise the MPACUK campaign against Lorna Fitzsimons in Rochdale at the General Election where the published leaflets saying she was Jewish, an ardent Zionist and part of the Israel lobby. They apologised for causing 'offence' when it was pointed out she is not Jewish at all.

Is trying to smear individuals their single goal in life? Maybe they can explain why Richard Madeley the TV presenter is being subjected to an MPACUK campaign?

Don't forget the whole 'John Ware is pro-Israeli' for pointing out the Interpal charity fraud on Panorama.

Good luck. I'll be watching,
Monty

Anonymous said...

The usual spokesperson for MPAC is Asghar Bukhari - this is what he is like in debates. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RJOrruAB1rY

The Druid said...

No crime was committed. And given the breadth of the offences under the Public Order Act 1986 as amended that is something. Moreover, the UK has a long tradition of free speech. Our society is a free and democratic one par excellence. Or used to be.

A useful case to mention is in Redmond-Bate v. DPP (1999). The facts of the case were simple. The appellants, who were evangelical Christians, were leafleting and preaching outside Litchfield Cathedral. This led to the arrest of RB by the police who feared a breach of the peace due to the reaction of some members of a crowd that had gathered to listen. The nature of free speech at common law was summarised by Lord Justice Sedley:

Free speech includes not only the inoffensive but the irritating, the contentious, the eccentric, the heretical, the unwelcome and the provocative provided it does not tend to provoke violence. Freedom only to speak inoffensively is not worth having. What Speaker"s Corner (where the law applies as fully as anywhere else) demonstrates is the tolerance which is both extended by the law to opinion of every kind and expected by the law in the conduct of those who disagree, even strongly, with what they hear. From the condemnation of Socrates to the persecution of modern writers and journalists, our world has seen too many examples of State control of unofficial ideas. A central purpose of the European Convention on Human Rights has been to set close limits to any such assumed power. We in this country continue to owe a debt to the jury which in 1670 refused to convict the Quakers William Penn and William Mead for preaching ideas which offended against State orthodoxy.

I like Mr. Justice Brandeis of the US Supreme Court too:

Those who won our independence believed . . . that public discussion is a political duty, and that this should be a fundamental principle of the American government. They recognized the risks to which all human institutions are subject. But they knew that order cannot be secured merely through fear of punishment for its infraction; that it is hazardous to discourage thought, hope and imagination; that fear breeds repression; that repression breeds hate; that hate menaces stable government; that the path of safety lies in the opportunity to discuss freely supposed grievances and proposed remedies, and that the fitting remedy for evil counsels is good ones. Believing in the power of reason as applied through public discussion, they eschewed silence coerced by law--the argument of force in its worst form. Recognizing the occasional tyrannies of governing majorities, they amended the Constitution so that free speech and assembly should be guaranteed. Whitney v. California, 274 U.S. 357, 375-376

All of these arguments are applicable to the UK. Equally the European Convention (Article 10) guarantees no less. The European Court of Human Rights at Strasbourg has repeatedly said that Article 10 is ”applicable not only to "information" or "ideas" that are favourably received or regarded as inoffensive or as a matter of indifference, but also to those that offend, shock or disturb the State or any sector of the population. Such are the demands of that pluralism, tolerance and broadmindedness without which there is no "democratic society". Handyside v. UK 5493/72 [1976] @ para 49. In the UK our courts are bound by the HRA (s.6) to act compatibility with Convention rights. So in any action for constructive dismissal the issue of free speech could be raised. A court cannot render a judgment that is incompatible with Convention rights in the absence of clear statutory authority to do so.

Public debate in this country, particularly in this area, must be ‘uninhibited, robust, and wide-open.’ The tactics adopted by MPAC are nothing less than a sinister attempt to silence critics and chill speech. Who dares now to venture their lawful opinions in public and run the risk of suspension from a job for holding offensive views? Whatever the outcome of this case MPAC has won. If we will not stand up for the values of our society – tried and tested down the ages – then we will find them supplanted with someone else’s.

Anonymous said...

Bear baiting Iain?

Harry Basset said...

Since submitting an earlier comment I have looked at the MAPC website. The people on it (especially the forum agitating about an alleged verbal assault of a young woman on a Central Train)regard themselves as under siege and that everyone is out to get them. If you debate anything with them expect a torrent of complaints and accusations on your blog. Apart from occasional bad language on here most correspondents are civilised and reasonable. The people on MPAC are playing for real, the Jihad reference is not a hollow slogan. Good luck.

Si-M said...

Why not ask the guy how his community would react if employers suspended all those muslims who go on Jihadist marches.

For balance, you could make the point that an employer is entitled to take action against an employee if they make statements proporting to represent the employer. However, the employer has no legitimate interest in the privately held view, however expressed, of its employees.

Another thought - why do many of these Muslims take themselves so damned seriously - can't they see the lexicon was pretty tongue in cheek?

Alex Agius. said...

Inigo Wilson can not apologise for the veiws MPAC object to as they are not his views, the peice is fictional & satirical.

Anonymous said...

Have you see who Guido has found out sponsors the anti-censorship campaigners Index? I think you might be able to guess the now hilariously innapropriate corporate...

http://5thnovember.blogspot.com/2006/08/orange-hypocrisy-prize-for-literature.html

Verity said...

"Tell us, Abdul. What first attracted you to the sterling multi-billionaire British Exchequer?"

Ken said...

Perhaps you could ask them why it is incumbent on Christians and other religions to learn about Islam, yet the first children to be removed from Religion lessons by their parents are Islamic?

ian said...

Just because someone is a Community Affairs Spokesman for a company, doesn't mean that what they say is what they mean?

Anonymous said...

Iain, just don't let whoever it is shout over everything you say, then have a go at you for interrupting them and 'trying to silence them' when you try and get a word in edgeways. Having listened to Ashgar Bukhari on the BBC Asian Network, this appears to be his main method of argument. Not saying that your opponenet will copy it, but sensible to be forewarned.

In fact, having a good listen to this: http://www.bbc.co.uk/asiannetwork/anita_rani/

(go to 'Thursday' and go 65 mins in if you haven't heard it already) should mean you're fairly au fait with the more extreme arguments that may be thrown at you.

Needless to say, I'm fairly sure you will be up against a moderate, polite and mutually respsctful interlocutor, who will have a grown-up debate. But you never know, do you?

Rog said...

Also how about something long the lines of why they affect "offence" over parts of the article, but do absolutely nothing about the truly horrific acts being perpetrated on muslims in (as one example) Iraq. By other muslims.

Do they really think the jokey definition of "Islamophobic" more outrageous than the deliberate mass murder of civillians and children by muslim terrorists?

Rog said...

Sorry Iain, another one.

Might be worth reminding them that being offended isn't a crime in our country, yet.

As Stephen Fry once said,

'It's now very common to hear people say, "I'm rather offended by that", as if that gives them certain rights. It's no more than a whine. It has no meaning, it has no purpose, it has no reason to be respected as a phrase. "I'm offended by that." Well, so fucking what?'

Anonymous said...

http://hurryupharry.bloghouse.net/archives/2005/08/03/mpacuk_neonazis_share_antisemitic_picture.php

Machiavelli's Understudy said...

Ask him about what the Qu'ran says about taking delight in others' misfortune/ 'defeat', as members of the MPAC forum are doing at the moment...

I'm sure it's 'un-Islamic' to indulge in schadenfreude.

Probably not much of a line of attack, though.

legal eagle said...

I think it needs to be emphasised that the comments were demonstrating how the left uses language in a rather odd way. In other words, they label someone 'Islamophobic' merely because they are troubled about the 7/7 bombings (which was Inigo's point). The implicit point was that throwing such terms around devalues them.

I think an ultra-reasonable stance should contrast nicely with the hot-headed MPAC approach (as seen from the link on Guido's blog today).

JT said...

What do the members of MPAC do for a living? If they have jobs in the private sector, would they think it fair game if I tried to get them fired for holding what in my view are some pretty extreme and unpleasant views?

If they don't want to lose their jobs for that reason, why go after Inigo for the same reason?

Also, why not contact him directly or through the site? Why go to his employer. That resembles the type of thing a five year old child would do.

Will B said...

Good luck Iain.

I suggest you make a point of the group trying to ruin the career of a man for something that is not illegal in any way.

Also highlight the fact that they claim that they are a 'Leading Muslim civil liberites group' yet they are curbing free speech.

Ask them if free speech only applies when Muslims are doing the bad mouthing, or something along those lines.

They are trying to make Islam and Muslims a special case in the UK and have the government legistlate just for them so try to tackle that asspect of this latest attack on freedom.

Also, you may want to make it clear that Islam is nothing like Judaism (they have been comparing this case with anti-semitic remarks)

Furthermore... state that it's a joke piece, implying that Wilson doesn't actually believe that islamophobe means that. And even if it weren't a joke piece, Wilson is saying that this is how the left defines islamophobia, not himself.

You may also like to ask them how they are improving the image of Muslims and improving dialogue between Muslims and non Musliims by pulling stunts like this.

I can't think of anything else...

Again, good luck!

Will_B said...

another thing...

Try and quote Descartes "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." line and relate it and interfaith dialogue and this stunt. something like 'how is interfaith dialogue supposed to get off the ground when you behave like this and shut down debate?'

Again. good luck. You'll probibly be accused of being pro zionist or part of some world wide zionst conspiracy. They have said it before about their opponents...

Ross F said...

It would be interesting to know MPAC why they deliberately conflate satirising extremist terrorist groups and their apologists with an attack on all muslims.

If someone was satirising the BNP and suggested that their definition of ethnic cleansing was a black couple moving in next door, then no sane person would assume it was an attack on all white people, other than those who sympathised with the BNP.

MPAC's reaction to the mocking of palestinian terrorists proves the definition of Islamophobia that Wilson gave.

Will_B said...

yikes.. big mistake make in last comment. not Descartes! Voltaire!

wonderful for his age said...

Cut and pasted via Google:

"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."

Francois Voltaire

If I were in your shoes I'd focus on freedom of expression and not be drawn into any argument on the rightness or otherwise of the content of the article.

It's the way we traditionally do it in this country and the majority don't want to be shackled.

Beachhutman said...

Yes. What if employers who spotted their employees walking around with banners saying : "Massacre those who insult Islam" and "Europe you will pay, your 9/11 will come". Seen al over the world, not just on a minority nterst blog.
Suppose the employers suspended THEM, eh?

Verity said...

One comment in six hours? Are you censoring us now, Iain, to appease the thought fascists?

Despite your abjuring me not to post, I did post one teeny little sentence,which oddly enough does not appear here. Also, Mrs Merton called me to tell me she had also posted and was bitterly disappointed not to see her post on your blog.

wonderful for his age said...

Also 'Sticks and stones can break my bones but names can never hurt me'.

People choose to be insulted. I can't imagine anybody being insulted by something a two year old said. The same words uttered by, say, a thirty year old magically become insulting.

No Sir, the so called insult is the same, the difference is in the processing in the receipients mind. Let them choose not to be insulted.

What if I 'chose' to be insulted by people wearing Muslim dress. Would I have a case?

shergar said...

Pots and kettles.
Ask whether a Muslim in a Muslim country such as the festering shit-hole that is Pakistan, could expect to be fired over airing anti-American views on a political weblog.
When, inevitably, you are accused of racism and Islamophobia, ask what should the correct term be for people who are justifiably concerned about the relationship between Islam and terror.

javelin said...

Got this response from Stuart Jackson. "the suspension of an employee is not intended to imply that the employee in question has done wrong. It is a neutral act that allows us to conduct a full investigation and reach a conclusion based on facts"

I replied and said a neutral act would have been to do nothing.

I feel that they are worried how this will play with their masters at French Telecom. Remember to keep mentioning the word French Telecom rather than Orange.

Colin D. said...

Iain, we can sometimes get more 4 news here in Dover. Not always in colour mind, so no colourfull language please. You could ask them when they are going to accept England as it is.Christian. In the alternative, suggest Scotland or wales for a wonderful life.

Helen said...

Ask them about the Nasredin Hadja stories - very funny, very satirical and well within the folklore of Muslim countries. In other words, there is no prohibition in Islam against jokes or satire.

Man in a shed said...

If you nip over to the MPAC uk web site you'll see they are trying to censure Stuart Ware of Panorama fame also. Could be a good issue to mention as they have no reasonable case - light blue touch paper a retire to a safe distance. Good luck Iain.(Sorry this is a little late in the day).

Mike D said...

Javelin, i got exactly the same response! Word for word.

Peter Hitchens said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
James said...

It wasn't really much of a debate really was it.

The other chap was pretty useless though I feel you made a mistake in moving it onto the "Muslims are not a race", as there was a far stronger point to be made in emphasising

a) that the article was satirical, and the quotations should have been placed in context of the other definitions given
b) that they were alluding to the fact that if you publish your identity then it's your own fault if people come to get you!

A bit riduclous that the MPAC guy was given both the first and last word too.

Will_B said...

Good appearance Iain. I liked the tie! You didn't let him run away with the debate, very very good. It was a bit of a pity that he didn't reveal himself though and accuse you of being a zionist.

Beachhutman said...

Racism. Term used to prevent any further discussion when the logic and direction of the discussion so far is looking dodgy to a minority ethnic group.

Colin D. said...

Why is it that ALL debate and differences have to be RACIST in THERE Eyes. Anybody would think they were not popular living next door. Freedom to speak your mind went long ago! You did well Iain!!

Anonymous said...

You've all fallen for it.

What should have been done is nothing, sweet FA, sound of tumbleweed.

Far too in love with the sound of your own voices you've perpetuated and expanded something which would have died a very quiet death otherwise.

Why can't people just STFU and realise when they are doing their cause more harmn than good. As for MPAC they have achieved their objective and all those who attempt to debate with them are just fuelling their success in this.

Better luck next time when your brain's warmed up.

Anonymous said...

Didn't see you. BB was far too compelling!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Harry Basset said...

Well More 4 didn't give either of you much of a go did they? I believe this topic warrants a much longer debate. I bet it is reported on the MAPC site as a glorious victory for them. I must be getting paranoid as your sites verification words often look vaguely like the names of middle eastern villages.

Man in a shed said...

Iain,

Just watched the interview. I'd have to say the MPAC guy was well prepared and looked reasonable. Its a shame More4 news didn't show screen shots of his web site. You didn't do bably, but on this occasion the other guy did better. Which is a shame as freedom of speech is the root of many of our freedoms.

will_b said...

In response to the claim by the young Mohammedan that it wasn't MPACUK that did this...

a senior activist (I take that that means they have been posting a lot) with a good reputation started the thread. The thread is also full of senior activists who have high reps.

Furthermore... One moderator of the forum whooped when it was broke to the forum that Inigo was suspended and another thanked the poster who broke the news and said that maybe Inigo would learn next time.

Finally, and perhaps the most damning piece of evidence that MPACUK engineered all this is the fact that the poster who broke the news of the suspension to the forum was one of the administrators of the site forum.


I'd also like to note that these are the same people who stood shoulder to shoulder with Bunglawala of the MCB when it was found that while he was engaged in a debate on the Guardian's comments free section on an entry he made about the Da Vinci Code someone at the same Reuters IP address as Bunglawala sent a death wish email to a US blogger.

The being being... 'I look forward to the day when you pigs get your throats cut....'

http://www.mpacuk.org/content/view/2187/34/ - link to MPACUK article.

This US blogger (you allhave probibly heard of him) Charles Johnson, seems to have developed a hate hate relationship with Al Reuters by exposing faked photos last month. He also assisted in highlighting EUReferendum's Qana photo staging case as well. All very interesting.

towcestarian said...

No advice old chap - just best of British luck. I'd rather you than me in there with him. Swivel-eyed loonies up close are pretty intimidating.

Remember don't shoot 'till you see the white of their eyes - whoops that was advice - sorry.

UK Daily Pundit said...

I still disagree with you on this one, Iain, and have to ask you whether you would defend the right to be homophobic with the same vigour? Would Guido? Would ConservativeHome?

This isn't about free speech. It's about the way we're all feeling with regard to the threat we face from a small minority of Muslim extremists.

That's why we get wound up when we hear one Muslim story after the next: Muslims want their own holidays, Muslims want Sharia law, Muslims want this and Mulsims want that.

Do you actually know any genuine Muslims? Muslims that don't have an agenda, that aren't on a badwagon, that aren't looking to generate a bit of publicity? I'm talking about ordinary Muslims who just want to live a quiet life like the rest of us.

Conservatives, and I suspect most Labour supporters, want to see the back of Muslim extremists in this country once and for all. We want the small minority who want to kill as many of us as they can either locked up or booted out of the country.

But getting involved with a crackpot Muslim pressure group and some clown who should have known better than to start throwing anti-Islamic comments about on ConservativeHome, is'nt the way to go about it.

And if this really is about freedom of speech would you defend Lynette Burrows' freedom of speech?

"Family-values campaigner Lynette Burrows had a call from the Metropolitan police after she took part in a debate on Radio 5 Live. She had argued that gay couples should not be allowed to adopt children, prompting a complaint of a "homophobic incident".

http://www.guardian.co.uk/gayrights/story/0,,1688857,00.html

Her opinions were completely out of order, I'm sure we'd both agree on that. But did she have the right to voice them? I don't think she did. And nor do I think ConservativeHome had the right to include Inigo Wilson's description of Islamophobic in the lexicon.

Tone made me do it - he's a bad influence said...

Am I the only one to be concerned that ITN saw fit to balance an extremist Muslim, on one side with a mainstream politician (Iain) on the other?
If their going to give the MPAC a platform shouldn't, say, the BNP be asked on to counter it?

Dissapointed of Surrey. said...

Just watched the show, oh dear, very disappointing. That little twat didn't let you get a word in and the biased idiot presenter was clearly not going to allow you to get any air time whatsoever. Her cutting you off at the end was a disgrace.

Verity said...

Why do people on this, and other, threads,keep referring to the politically correct "small minority"? 370,000 of them have said they want their shariah law in civilised Britain. That's the ones who checked YES. How many checked DON'T KNOW or NOT SURE? That's an awful lot of voters lobbying to get our English Common Law changed. And they're all adults. Most of the rest are children. We cannot be sanguine about the presence of these people in our country.

I wish I'd seen the programme.

Beachhutman said...

>>>370,000 of them have said they want their shariah law in civilised Britain. That's the ones who checked YES

That would be 0.5% of the population (I'd call that a minority) trying to change laws that will - ineviable - affect the rights of around 64 million people.

No, we can't be sangine about the presence of these people in the UK. Among them being the ones who also went around waving placards calling for the beheading (sharia) of people who "insult Islam". "Insult" being interpreted as they want to define it.

Peter Hitchens said...

uk pundit
It aint gay blokes that are blowing us up or telling us how to live our lives.
They may faint if they saw the state of my bathroom but they dont want to kill me.

Sacha said...

I thought it came out as fairly even between you both, which was a shame because of the hyprocrasy of the MPAC re not condemning the Reuters death threat person.

Okay, their idea of racism is wrong but it was hardly hitting back against the motormouth MPAC commentator. I would have asked him the same question re linking to neo nazi sites that was raised in the radio interview yesterday and the silence over the death threat. If someone throws mud you should throw it back.

Anonymous said...

Is their a video clip of this?

Josh Lyman said...

Sorry Iain, I missed the start of the interview but saw you make your school-boy error. Freedom of speech is connected but it is not the main issue. It may be the sexy issue but it is a trap. If you say it is about freedom of speech then you come across as "why is this Tory blogger defending this Tory racist."

You accepted the premise. If it is about freedom of speech then you are accepting that he said something nasty. You should have gone with MPAC manufacturing a false accusation of islamophobia on a false reading of an innocent comment.

Read the article.

I mean it. Read the article and then read out "and tried to describe their usage and meaning as I've encountered them. Welcome to the 'Lefty lexicon'"

It is not enough to say "it is satire" the easy (and wrong) response is "well I didn't find it funny, I'm offended" you have to explain the satire. Inigo Wilson is taking the piss out or people who use words mendaciously. He is not taking the piss out of Muslims or Palestinians.

Show them that MPAC is not responding to an affront, they are manufacturing outrage to attack someone in a totally dishonest and unjust manner.

Good luck with the rest of the media tarting.

griswold said...

4 minutes on C4 News is not the forum for this debate. Complete waste of time for both of you. Problem you and others face is that Ashgar has a line, a false one, that leads you off the trail. How do you debate with promoters of terror. Ever see anyone best Gerry Adams?

Verity said...

To the anonymong who said that someone was posting hate messages as Bungla Boy, this is completely wrong.

Bungla Boy himself was posting hate messages and death threats and routing them (anonymously, he thought)through a Reuters ISP in Sweden to avoid detection. This doesn't work with Charles Johnson who took about three minutes to trace the whole route. Charles was confident enough in his own technical forensic wizardry to eventually file a formal complaint of a death threat with Scotland Yard.

Bungla Boy is a nasty piece of work.

Beachhutman - The "tiny minority" people refer to, as you are well aware, so drop the teenage sophistries, is a "tiny minority of the Muslim community". If there are, as claimed, 2m of them in our country, probably at least half of them children, so a million adults. I can't do the math, but 370,000 out of a million is maybe 40%. That is not a tiny minority.

The survey, Anonymong, was among Muslims. I don't think anyone was stupid enough to ask normal Brits if they'd shariah law to replace our ancient laws. 370,000 of them said yes.

Beachhutman said...

>>>I can't do the math, but 370,000 out of a million is maybe 40%. That is not a tiny minority.

I can. Of course, it's not a tiny minority of Muslims. But Muslims are a tiny minority at 3%. 370,000 is about 40% of 3% of the UK population.

So 1.4% by your figures. Still a tiny minority.

But then, we are governed by an even smaller minority, voted for by a minority of the population(22%). And they can be extraordinarily dangerous !

Cinnamon said...

UKPundit, there is a diffference between saying gays shouldn't marry and saying gays should be killed.

One is a stupid opinion, and the other is incitement to murder.

Note that the incitement refers to inciting, rather than holding an opinion, if you just think that gays should be killed, but do no try and get others to agree, then this is legal.

And I agree with you, the commentator should not been hauled over the coals for he opinion and you will find a lot of gay people who disagree with her, but would defend her right to be stupid publicly.

*Sigh*, why is everyone so confused about what free speech is in this country?

Look it is simple:

Opinion and ideas floated for general testing = free speech

Incitement and lies = illegal.

The holocaust free speech discussion was excruciating to watch, even very smart people were not capable of understanding those simple differences, holocaust denial is not an opinion, but, a lie.

Now, if we, as the leadculture do not understand this principle, how can we teach the muslim community about it?