A man has been arrested for wearing the wrong t shirt which mocks Hillsborough victims. It was deemed his freedom of speech was threatening the feelings of others and upsetting them. This kindergarten retreat from the market place of ideas has spilled out of the universities and is playing out in the wider culture threatening to close down free speech altogether.
Anyone who cares about liberty and its bedrock freedom of speech and the concomittant right to offend should be very worried by these Orwellian developments. In a country where telling the truth or expressing unpopular non conventional views is deemed threatening and abusive and subject to prosecution and possible inprisonment via the insidious introduction of a sinister new concept called thoughtcrime and speechcrime the only victor is tyranny. First they came for the Hillsborough deniers....
What would a society without freedom of speech look like? We are about to find out if current trends are anything to go by. Of course we can look at a country that has totally eliminated free speech and it is North Korea but we have no grounds for complacency. You may not be arrested for criticising the dear leader David Cameron but you could well end up in the dock for lampooning one of our many sacred cows, for instance as alluded to, the alleged sanctity of Liverpool football fans.
Freedom of speech is what separates us from the animal kingdom where differences can only be settled by force and violence. Humans can resolve differences by debate and discussion. Remove that and the only recourse is to violence. Indeed freedom of speech is sacrosant or should be as it is a social safety valve that protects us from force and violence, where views can be challenged and combated by contrary ones in a free exchange of ideas.Once that is removed only a rapid descent into barbarism is possible.