The Rights of Wrong
Sunday, January 11, 2004

The Rights of Wrong

The Rights of Wrong

Robert Kilroy-Silk has always struck me as an unattractive character. A flash talk show host and former Labour MP who boasts about his money and blames his secretary lacks, well, class. Although I have genuinely mixed feelings over the Americanisation of our culture, he and his career are certainly one of the bad things to come from that process.

His column was also misjudged. Saying nasty things about Arabs is a rather stupid way of making a foreign policy point unless you are a neo-conservative in which case it's simply living up to expectations. And he came to the wrong conclusion, that we need war. However the proposed prosecution shows simply how the race relations industry has gone too far and needs to be disbanded.

Trevor Phillips, the talentless chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality wants the police to prosecute Kilroy for his column. Now he doesn't appear to have actually said anything that was strictly untrue. Arab governments are repressive, Arabs did hijack the planes that crashed into the World Trade Center and ordinary Arabs did dance and cheer when 3000 (and it looked like far more at the time) innocent Americans died horrible deaths. He did not point out that the Arabs had a logical numerical system before us, but you shouldn't be prosecuted for not pointing out the other side in opinion pieces.

More to the point he did not say "go and kill an Arab for me" nor did he refer to Mr Mustafa at 100 Acacia Road. What he said cannot be construed as incitement to an actual crime.

How is this going to play in foreign policy debate? Well it's going to have the insiduous effect of blocking honest debate. Whether we like it or not there are nasty foreigners out there and there are foreign governments who are acting contrary to our interests. To point this out (even mistakenly) and then find that you could be prosecuted for this is going to have a chilling debate on foreign policy debate. Would Peter Tatchell be able to expose more black governments over their non-European treatment of sexual deviants? Would the silly case of an anti war protestor being prosecuted under the race relations laws for disrespecting the Stars and Stripes be so unique and silly?
And if the majority of people are only exposed to views that paint foreign governments people as nice and trustworthy then we are going to make monumentally bad foreign policy on the back of that.

Free speech is not only important on its own terms, it also helps us to make the best decisions with all the information available to us. Trevor Phillip's updated fascism isn't only morally wrong, it's disastrous for the health of the nation.


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