Wednesday 20 March 2013

Folly, Folly, Folly!

Hacked Off activist Hugh Grant following a night out

Some time ago I warned about the pernicious moves towards suppressing our free press - see this post.

So now it seems that the political parties have joined together to do this wicked deed, encouraged by the many MPs who have a vested interest because they have been caught out themselves with wrongdoing or embarrassing behaviour and by the powerful celebrities and millionaires behind the lobby group "Hacked Off" - many of them with rather obvious vested interests. Some powerful supporters of press restriction may have become embittered because the truth has been told about their disgusting behaviour such as using prostitutes.

The public is assumed to be supportive of restriction or at any rate passive because people tut and grimace about the behaviour of the Sun and other tabloids (and yet we still read them).

Folly, folly, folly! Now that the principle is established of government interference it is completely inevitable that the "the great and the good" will soon say that the system put in place is insufficient and tighter controls are needed. And soon enough this repression will have consequences for vulnerable people - including people with a mental illness I fear - because the bullies and exploiters will hide behind the new rules.

An exaggeration? No, because current law is already so used - note that nobody dared say anything about Jimmy Savile because of our punitive libel laws and vulnerable people suffered horribly for years as a consequence.

The price of a free press is that cruel things and things in bad taste will be published. As soon as the state intervenes to try to mitigate those things the opportunity is simultaneously created, as night follows day, for wicked people to get away with crimes against defenceless fellow-citizens.

A glimmer of hope - there are some signs that Fleet Street might not play ball. The trouble is that freedom of expression is too precious to be left to newspaper editors and proprietors to defend but, hey, any port in a storm - why not hold your nose and write to the Soaraway Sun urging them to refuse to cooperate?

Excellent interview with Ian Hislop exposing the injustice of the proposed new system here.