Eine Kleine Nichtmusik

Witty and pertinent observations on matters of great significance OR Incoherent jottings on total irrelevancies OR Something else altogether OR All of the above

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Call It Freedom

Uncle Jimmy accuses the folk at Open Democracy, when discussing ToeNibbler's right of free speech, of using the discussion as a way of airing once more their arguments that the Iraq war was illegal and Tone therefore a war criminal even though untried. Jimmy considers this an unacceptable muddying of the water over the free speech issue, and I'm inclined to agree with him on that point. *

Which is why it's rather funny to find that a few paragraphs further on Jimmy falls into exactly the same trap, being unable to resist bringing in one of his betes noires (or brunes), Binyam Mohamed. BM to Jimmy can't be simply a British resident, but he has to be a "non-British" British resident. (I assume that senseless locution is meant to inform us that BM isn't a British citizen, as if anyone but the racist Jimmy - not definitely a British citizen himself - gave a toss.) Binyam Mohamed is apparently "known to have trained for jihad", in exactly the same way that Tony Blair is "known to be a war criminal", i.e. because some people who don't like him say so. If Jimmy has evidence to back his allegation it is his duty to produce it for the authorities. Unlike Blair, BM was tried, imprisoned, tortured, and then released because the evidence used to convict him was found to be a pack of lies with the odd statement extracted under torture thrown in for good measure. It has always seemed to me that if Blair is as innocent as Jimmy makes out the best thing he could do would be to submit to a trial which would presumably exonerate him (if, for example, there was insufficient evidence). But Jimmy, like Blair himself, seems unwilling to take the risk. Heroism? Leadership? Spare us. Perhaps they think that Blair's supporters would be tortured until they gave the "right" evidence the way his opponents were (with Jimmy's enthusiastic support). Let me comfort the lily-livered faint-hearts: they don't do that in the Hague the way Blair's cronies did it in Guantanamo and elsewhere.

* If folk want to waste their money buying a pile of tripe from a disgraced ex-politician, let them. Protesting against Nibbler's book-signings is just giving the oxygen of publicity to one of history's greatest publicity-seekers. As nobody was to be allowed to talk to Blair during the signings, which were to be all about shifting product, with no photographs, conversations, personal messages or any other human contact, the flocks of faithful sheep might have wondered what kind of "speech" was having its freedom upheld. But that would have been their problem. Even though, as the writer at Open Democracy points out, Blair was responsible for many dramatic restrictions in freedoms of speech and association when he was in power, we should have shown him that British people are better than that - indeed, that we're better than him. As it is, the Blair machine won again. He didn't have to spend unproductive time (remember he isn't making money out of this book) pretending to be interested in "ordinary people" who actually buy their own books; he got to be a victim of censorship who selflessly put the public good before the rights of his audience to see him; and he took no risks whatsoever.

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