Wednesday, October 27, 2010


From the 'This makes my blood boil' category. Last Sunday, October 24 2010, Gates of Vienna had the scoop of an appalling story:


The American rabbi Nachum Shifren is visiting England to meet with members of the English Defence League and express his solidarity with the European resistance to Islamization. See this post at ICLA for a video of a BBC news report featuring Rabbi Shifren. The report describes (in that well-known snarky BBC tone) the growing transatlantic cooperation among groups opposing Islamization.

This afternoon Rabbi Shifren was scheduled to address the crowd at Speakers’ Corner in London. I’ve just received a phone call from an EDL member at the scene, who reports that the rabbi was prevented from speaking by a group of Muslims who effectively occupied Speakers’ Corner.

The rabbi moved to a location a short distance away to give his speech, but was unable to address supporters at Speakers’ Corner itself.

Speakers’ Corner is the epicenter of the tradition of free speech in England. Up until now it has stood as a sanctuary, a sacred place in the heart of English civil liberties.

If you can’t speak out at Speakers’ Corner, then free speech in England is dead.

Originally there were several Speaker's Corners throughout London, and there are some others, far less known, in other countries: Australia, Singapore, The Netherlands (where it is called De Spreeksteen [the Speaking Stone - MFBB], Canada. But when people mention Speaker's Corner then THE Speaker's Corner is meant, the archetypical forum for anyone wishing to address not matter what subject. It's in the northeastern corner of London's Hyde Park, and it was established in the latter half of the nineteenth century after several workers and middle class organizations had adapted the habit of airing their political discontent there. Since then, it has become a place where you can utter no matter what opinion on no matter what subject. Historically, the most notable political speakers have almost always been socialists of socialist theorists (as anyone knows, rightwingers are always working): Karl Marx, Ben Tillet (socialist and trade union leader), Kwame Nkrumah (postcolonial afrosocialist dictator of Ghana, a self-described scientific socialist who ruined his country), William Morris (designer, socialist theorist), Vladimir Lenin etc etc.

Either way, Speaker's Corner is an ICON of Freedom of Speech. Naturally, it attracts its fair number of nutters, and though on any given day you may get to hear some really sensible talk on a variety of subjects, you're just as likely to run into a speech by some colossal nutter. Unfortunately, such was the case with yours truly upon visiting London in 1992, where I took some pics of the raconteurs du jour:


But all that has come to an end now. As Gates of Vienna notes,

If you can’t speak out at Speakers’ Corner, then free speech in England is dead.

Upon reading the GOV entry I became so enraged that I posted a comment about it on Belgium's top political blog, run by Luc Van Braekel. There's a fella commenter there, a lefty commenter. Moniker is "Tjerk" (he might just as well have omitted the first character). This was his reaction:

"Secondly (category: a half-truth is worse than a full-blooded lie) you say that a jewish rabbi was prevented from speaking at Speaker's Corner by muslims, but what you do not say is that it was a Californian rabbi who intended to address a throng hooligans from the English Defense League."

So if you are a rabbi, from CA no less, and if you address EDL people, you have no right to speak. Hmmmm. This comment tells you in a heartbeat that The Netherlands, even though it has produced several contemporary Shining Knights in the defense of Freedom of Speech, is at the same time home to some of the worst politically correct apparatchicks, unfortunately often with far-reaching powers. Like I wrote a big higher up, The Netherlands has its own Speaker's Corner. It's called the Spreeksteen, and it's actually a monument commemorating the filmmaker Theo Van Gogh, who was bestially murdered by a muslim. Check out this wiki entry:

In the Netherlands, there is a permanently designated speakers' corner called the Spreeksteen in Amsterdam. Lawfully, every person has the freedom of speech as a matter of right. In practice, there is considerable ambiguity which gives mayors and other authorities the semi-lawful powers to prevent or distort free speech. The 'Spreeksteen' is open for free speech 24-hours a day, and was established to allow complete free speech. The 'Spreeksteen' has been located in the Oosterpark in Amsterdam since May 5, 2005, and has been erected by a citizens action after the brutal murder of film-maker and columnist Theo van Gogh. Plans for bringing the Amsterdam Speakers' Corner online with a permanent camera and microphone are in a phase of installation. In the meantime the speakers are filmed with a hand-held camera.[8]

The Spreeksteen was involved in controversy when they allowed Michiel Smit, a extreme rightist, to speak on October 1, 2006. Antifascists used noise to prevent Smit from being heard (as is the longstanding tradition in the Netherlands when right wing people speak in public). René Danen, a former council member, threatened the Spreeksteen foundation with criminal prosecution if they let Smit speak again. Smit was scheduled to speak at the Spreeksteen again on November 5, 2006.

People ought to know that the REAL oppressors of Free Speech, the REAL tyrants... are basically always...


Americans should think about that come November 2.


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