Friday, September 30, 2005


WARNING! This Post Contains Political Content. Readers Are Advised That Symptoms May Include Nausea, Nosebleeds, Myalgia, And Large Amounts Of Ennui.

Sorry about this folks. I'll try and start being interesting again soon, I promise. However, I've just got to get this lot off my chest.

First up comes Keith Shilson, president of Middlesex University' Students Union. Now, Mr Shilson has gotten into quite a bit of trouble in the last week, because he has been trying to organise a question-and-answer session with Islamic extremist group Hizb ut-Tahrir.

The problem with this is that Hizb ut-Tahrir are one of the groups singled out by the National Union of Students 'no platform' policy, which was introduced in the 1990s to stop Student Union officers speaking on the same platform as a member of, or spokesman for, an extremist group.

The 'no platform' policy is a disgrace, and always has been. The two most important groups covered by the ban are Hizb ut-Tahrir and the British National Party. These groups are seen to have such extreme opinions that the right of freedom of speech doesn't extend to them.

The platform regarding Hizb ut-Tahrir was adopted long before the War On Terror, when, according to Bristow in the link above, 'it was enough to talk in vague terms about the group's record of 'violence, intimidation and harassment towards other Muslim students, Jewish students, Hindu students, lesbian, gay and bisexual students and women students.' The move was, of course, a censorship of the freedom of speech, proving rather clearly that sometimes it really is better to do the right thing for the wrong reasons (not adopting the policy) than the wrong thing for the right reasons (adopting it).

Now, instead of a situation where students, who by and large still hold things like women's rights pretty close to their chest, are rejecting groups like HuT on the grounds of their undeniable fascism, instead we have one where the president of a Student Union can seriously suggest promoting a group like that, with a record of foul behaviour.

To quote further from the article;

'Shilson's provisional attitude towards free speech is revealed by his support for the NUS policy of 'No Platform' for the BNP. 'The crucial issue is if it incites violence', he explains. 'Statistics show that whenever the BNP does well in elections, racist crimes increase. Actual members of the BNP have been guilty of criminal acts. There is hard evidence that members of the BNP are violent thugs.' He concludes wryly: 'I believe in free speech but also in the right not be assaulted'.'

Whenever people say that they believe in freedom of speech, and then use the word 'but', they obviously don't. British public life is worryingly full of such people. The most pathetic use of the word 'but' comes, as it does in this sentence, before an invocation of a 'negative right.' 'The right not to be assaulted' is a new one, presumably because people have realised just how pathetic and thin-skinned 'the right not to be offended' sounded.

The real test of whether or not somebody actually believes in freedom of speech comes in their willingness to accept voices that they not only don't really want to hear, but actually find morally repugnant. There is nothing, nothing, good about the BNP, but they have as much right to be heard as anyone. Yes, what they have to say is hateful and stupid, no denying it, but people will only realise that if they can hear it. I personally know these ideas are stupid because I know somebody who's convinced of them, and if I hadn't, I might not regard them as quite the force for evil that I do now.

The other interesting thing about this article is its depiction of the political arc the NUS and other student bodies have come on since the adoption of the 'no platform' policy. Student representatives used to hate Hizb ut-Tahrir, now they want to promote them. Why? Well, it all comes down to 9/11 and the War On Terror, student bodies obviously opposing the wars post-9/11, and formulating the belief that these wars were wars on Muslims. Consequently, they're suffering predictable collective liberal guilt over the matter, and showing this in exactly the wrong way.

Let me be clear about this - the virtues students should be defending on campus are the ones they were defending in the nineties, albeit in the wrong way. Those are the rights of other Muslim students, of Jewish, Hindu and Sikh students, of female students and of Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Students in the face of the extreme right, because make no mistake about it, Hizb ut-Tahrir are as far right as the BNP. That's a frightening thought.


From one set of terrorism-apologisers to another. Paul at Gagwatch has written a very sensible piece on animal rights protestors.

I'm as much a fan of not being cruel to animals as the next man, but these people really are in a league of dementia of their own. Their latest ploy has been to threaten kids at a nursery. Oh, that's big. How clever. Threatening kids for the perceived damage their parents (and in some cases, not even their parents, as often they have no connection at all to animal research) do. These people are literally the sickest people on Earth, and it wouldn't bother me one bit if they all died horrible, revolting, painful deaths, preferrably having had their legs bitten nearly off in the woods by a panther or some such. Lest we forget, these are the same people who last year dug up a grave in order to dessecrate the corpse. In that case alone, the protestors, whose lives to me are worth considerably less than the animals they claim to protect, also launched a paedophile smear campaign against the ladies relatives. Scum. Utter scum. Further, as Paul rightly points out, 'not only are these people violent criminals, but if any of them has ever recieved any medical treatment, they are also hypocrites.'


Returning to a favourite theme of recent times, these are excellent points about the Kate Moss case.

(via Blithering Bunny)


It's good to see the most ludicrous ban in the entire civilised world being challenged.

The ban, which will prevent the depiction of any actor or actress smoking in any film or television programme in India, is a perfect example of what can happen when health advocates go too far. The need to be what the government perceives as 'healthy' is perhaps the most pernicious notion around today, made considerably worse by the sort of people who get involved in that sort of campaigning. The good folks in my sidebar are also rightly critical of these sorts of measure. As Clairwil rightly points out;

'These people make me want to smoke crack and inject smack into my eyeballs. They make me want to smoke three fags at a time and eat blocks of lard. I hate them . . . When did smokers, fatties and people with a family history of certain conditions consent to forfeiting the right to a life free of unreasonable state intrusion? It is totally unacceptable in a democracy for the state to invade peoples privacy and harass them in such a manner over matters of personal choice.'

It seems that the Indian government are needing of this wisdom. Consider how short films like 'Goodfellas' are going to be. What a waste over a spurious non-issue. Some people are really, really in need of getting things in perspective, and considering whether or not their country really should be party to one of the greatest restrictions upon freedom of expression in a democracy today.

I agree that the true beliefs of extreme groups should be heard by all... how can we truly recognise how vile and ignorant these groups are without listening to their particular brand of bollocks first?

(Although in my university handbook lonely students were warned to be cautious of being befriended by devious god botherer’s and subsequently becoming an unwitting member of a religious cult: apparently rife and extremely manipulative in the West Midlands. In my opinion anyone stupid enough to be brainwashed deserves it! So if students are perceived to be this easily led no wonder the NUS feels the need to play nanny and censor speakers)
You're absolutely right - a large part of the problem with the 'no platform' policy, and indeed with that handbook, is that it shows precisely no trust whatsoever.

People at university (I'm deliberately not saying 'students') are supposed to be in a phase of their lives where they investigate ideas and beliefs, and it's expected that some of these will be stranger than others.

If universities' wish to nanny their pupils, it should come as no surprise to them if their members behave like children.

The sickening thing is is that the NUS and individual faculties clearly see students as potential terrorists, racists, idiots or other wackos. Would it hurt them to show just a little trust?
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