It’s only funny when the loser geeks at a provincial Sci Fi Convention have a hissy fit and ban somebody, but, as is happening in Europe today, even in Britain, both Free Speech and Freedom of the Press are becoming dead letters in the face of legally-enforced political correctness.
Bruce Bawer reports on a truly frightening example of PC tyranny that happened in Britain just a few days ago.
On Friday, British free-speech activist and Islam critic Tommy Robinson was acting as a responsible citizen journalist â€” reporting live on camera from outside a Leeds courtroom where several Muslims were being tried for child rape â€” when he was set upon by several police officers. In the space of the next few hours, a judge tried, convicted, and sentenced him to 13 months in jail â€” and also issued a gag order, demanding a total news blackout on the case in the British news media. Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, was immediately taken to Hull Prison.
Hull Prison, in Kingston upon Hull, England, where Tommy Robinson was taken to serve a 13-month prison sentence just hours after his arrest on Friday, May 25.
Most media outlets were remarkably compliant. News stories that had already been posted online after Robinsonâ€™s arrest at the Scottish Daily Record, Birmingham Live, The Mirror, RT, and Breitbart News were promptly pulled down, although, curiously, a report remained up at the Independent, a left-wing broadsheet that can be counted on to view Robinson as a hooligan. Indeed, the Independentâ€™s article described Robinson as â€œfar-rightâ€ and, in explaining what he was doing outside the courthouse, used scare quotes around the word â€œreportingâ€; it then summed up the least appealing episodes in his career and blamed him for an attack on the Finsbury Park Mosque last January. Somehow, the Independent also got away with publishing a report on Londonâ€™s Saturday rally in support of Robinson.
Also on Saturday, Breitbart UK posted a copy of the gag order, but redacted it as required. The resulting document proved to be a perfect illustration of Western Europeâ€™s encroaching tyranny.
Were all the articles in the British media pulled down â€œvoluntarilyâ€? There is no way to know for sure. On Sunday, at about noon Central European Time, one of my Facebook friends posted a link to what was apparently a new story at Breitbart UK, about Robinsonâ€™s imprisonment in Hull. Three hours later, however, the story was no longer there. Shortly afterward, I clicked on a link to an article at the Hull Daily Mail that Google summed up as follows: â€œSupporters of former EDL leader Tommy Robinson are urging people to write to him in Hull Prison â€” where they say he is in â€˜grave danger.’â€ When I clicked on the link, however, the story had been pulled.
Carl Benjamin, who produces video commentary under the name â€œSargon of Akkad,â€ is a popular British YouTuber who has somewhere around a million subscribers, and who routinely criticizes Islam, identity politics, and political correctness with wit and panache. He is generally a lively, free-wheeling, sardonic fellow, but in the two-hour-plus video he posted on Saturday about the Robinson case, he was uncharacteristically sober, exceedingly cautious, and at times even sounded mournful.
â€œI did tell you that Britain isnâ€™t a free country, didnâ€™t I?â€ he said a minute or so into his video. â€œIâ€™ve been saying it for agesâ€¦ and nobody listens.â€ He made it clear he was not about to violate the gag order â€” not, as he put it, about to â€œblunder into the jaws of the beast, in much the same way as I guess Tommy has,â€ and thus â€œdeliberately put myself in the line of fire with the UK government, giving them just cause to arrest me.â€
Benjamin is a gutsy guy, so it was unsettling to hear him speak this way. The look on his face somehow brought home the dark reality underlying Robinsonâ€™s fast-track arrest, trial, conviction and incarceration. Benjamin emphasized that the most â€œsensibleâ€ thing for someone like himself [Benjamin] to do right now â€” he used that word, â€œsensible,â€ repeatedly â€” is to do his best to stay out of jail so that he can continue to speak up. â€œI am in a country that is not free,â€ he repeated gravely. â€œMy options are limitedâ€¦ I feel jealous as hell of you guys in America. You donâ€™t know how lucky you are.â€
The upside â€” and the irony â€” of this case is that the gag order, while silencing the British news media, has caused people around the world to take notice. To be sure, a quick tour of major mainstream newspaper websites in Western Europe, North America and around the Anglosphere turned up nothing. But on alternative news sites around Europe, the story was front and center.
Imagine what it will be like if Corbyn ever wins.