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Peter Robinson called British actor Laurence Fox to our attention in a recent episode of “Uncommon Knowledge,” prompting a bit of research. I was encouraged to find a Telegraph interview from last fall that was quite fair, not a BBC/CNN-style harangue. This all started with Laurence Fox recording an original protest song “The Distance.” That got him an appearance on BBCs Question Time, where he dared push back on a woman of color‘s smear of “racism.” Fox’s defiance unleashed the wokist mob and attempted cancellation of his career. The heart of the outrage was his daring to push back on an assertion that Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, was the victim of racism. He dared insist “We are the most lovely, tolerant country in Europe.” Is Laurence Fox an outlier, destined for erasure, or is he a harbinger of change?
Poking a little further, the Telegraph now has a permanent cancel culture section on its website. The Reclaim Party has a functioning website, including the complete results of the freedom of expression poll of 2,119 UK adults aged 18+ online from 5-7 February 2021. Searching for that information unearthed results of two U.S. polls, a Harvard CAPS / Harris Poll of the general public, finding a majority of Americans say they believe cancel culture is a threat to their freedom, and a Zogby Poll of 500 business leaders that found “Most business leaders think certain progressive ideas about society and the ”cancel culture” are a threat to the country and are unnecessary.”
The full results of the Harvard-Harris Poll are available: [ Topline Full Release | Cross Tabs ]. CNN noted that striking a posture of opposition to cancel culture is good electoral politics for the GOP. Yet, Laurence Fox’s party had no success in its first election outing. He is clear that he is trying to push the major parties to address the threat to traditional British notions of free speech and inquiry. Boris Johnson’s government has recognized the threat enough to talk about action against universities that practice cancel culture.
Mr Williamson will unveil the new measures in the Commons on Tuesday, in a bid to strengthen the existing legal protections for free speech in higher education, the newspaper reports.
It means student unions and higher-education facilities will have to promote free speech on campuses.
The “free speech champion” will be a part of the Office for Students regulator.
A departmental source told the Sunday Telegraph: “Free speech underpins our democratic society and our universities have a long and proud history of being places where students and academics can express themselves freely, challenge views and cultivate an open, inquiring mind.
Regrettably, PM Johnson’s government now appears to be playing both sides of the speech issue, as expressed in the Queen’s Speech 2021. striking a free speech pose in universities while criminalizing unpopular speech in public, giving more power to already abusive police under the cover of protecting communities against excessively noisy public processions and protests.
My Government will strengthen and renew democracy and the constitution. Legislation will be introduced to ensure the integrity of elections, protect freedom of speech and restore the balance of power between the executive, legislature and the courts [Electoral Integrity Bill, Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill, Judicial Review Bill, Dissolution and Calling of Parliament Bill]. My Ministers will promote the strength and integrity of the union. Measures will be brought forward to strengthen devolved Government in Northern Ireland and address the legacy of the past [Northern Ireland (Ministers, Elections and Petitions of Concerns) Bill, Legacy Legislation].
My Government will introduce measures to increase the safety and security of its citizens.
Legislation will increase sentences for the most serious and violent offenders and ensure the timely administration of justice [Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill].
The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill attacks freedom of speech, letting police claim community disturbance as pretext to arrest people who publicly assemble for unpopular reasons:
55 Imposing conditions on public assemblies
(1) Section 14 of the Public Order Act 1986 (imposing conditions on public assemblies) is amended as follows.
(2) In subsection (1)—
(a) for “If” substitute “Subsection (1A) applies if”,
(b) for the “or” at the end of paragraph (a) substitute— “(aa) in the case of an assembly in England and Wales, the noise generated by persons taking part in the assembly may result in serious disruption to the activities of an organisation which are carried on in the vicinity of the assembly, (ab) in the case of an assembly in England and Wales— (i) the noise generated by persons taking part in the assembly may have a relevant impact on persons in the vicinity of the assembly, and (ii) that impact may be significant, or”, and
(c) omit the words after paragraph (b).
(3) After subsection (1) insert— “(1A) The senior police officer may give directions imposing on the persons organising or taking part in the assembly—
(a) in the case of an assembly in England and Wales, such conditions as appear to the officer necessary to prevent the disorder, damage, disruption, impact or intimidation mentioned in subsection (1);
(b) in the case of an assembly in Scotland, such conditions as to the place at which the assembly may be (or continue to be) held, its maximum duration, or the maximum number of persons who may constitute it, as appear to the officer necessary to prevent the disorder, damage, disruption or intimidation mentioned in subsection (1)(a) or (b).”
(4) In subsection (2), for “subsection (1)” substitute “this section”.
(5) After subsection (2) insert—
“(2A) For the purposes of subsection (1)(ab)(i), the noise generated by persons taking part in an assembly may have a relevant impact on persons in the vicinity of the assembly if—
(a) it may result in the intimidation or harassment of persons of reasonable firmness with the characteristics of persons likely to be in the vicinity, or
(b) it may cause such persons to suffer serious unease, alarm or distress.
(2B) In considering for the purposes of subsection (1)(ab)(ii) whether the noise generated by persons taking part in an assembly may have a significant impact on persons in the vicinity of the assembly, the senior police officer must have regard to—
(a) the likely number of persons of the kind mentioned in paragraph (a) of subsection (2A) who may experience an impact of the kind mentioned in paragraph (a) or (b) that subsection,
(b) the likely duration of that impact on such persons, and
(c) the likely intensity of that impact on such persons.”
There is much more in this bill, and a continued advancement of police and prosecutors attacking unpopular speech on the streets. So apparently, the smart set at university is to play at free speech and debate, but the unwashed public is not to get any ideas or airs. Freedom of speech and assembly is only for the posh set under Boris Johnson’s pseudo-populist government.
“You are the god in the religion. If people don’t agree with you they are heretics and need to be punished. . . . In the woke religion, the godhead is within you. So you cannot be hypocritical, because you are god.”
Laurence Fox Defends His Right to an Opinion After His Controversial Comments | Good Morning BritainPublished in