Thursday, August 17, 2006

The future's bright, the future's censorship?

The other night whilst I was looking at the logs for this blog I noticed that I'd been receiving hits to this page from the following keyword search "Inigo Wilson racist". The curious soul that I am decided to have a look at what else Google was throwing up and discovered a thread on the Muslim Public Affairs Committee forum. As you can no doubt see from the thread, it's pretty clear that an exceptionally small minority of people had taken a rather hysterical offence to two specific entries in what was meant to be an amusing look at the way the Left has appropriated language in a pernicious way.

The two entries in questions were, as you've probably already guessed, about Islam or issues surrounding the subject. Specifically Wilson's piece pointed out that the phrase islamophobic has a tendency to be levelled at "anyone who objects to having their transport blown up on the way to work". The deeper point of course being that whilst the phrase has value, the inaccurate usage of it by the Left actually leads to it being devalued. However, according to the nice people over at MPAC (many of which openly support Hezbollah (a terrorist organisation)) this definition of islamophobic was itself islamophobic.

The other Lexicon entry that upset the people at MPAC was Wilson's definition of Palestinian. What Wilson said was that the term is used by the Left as the definition for the archetype victim. He also said that, for the Left, they are "never responsible for anything they do" no matter how many people may be killed. According to the people at MPAC this statement was racist. However, when you place this and the other "objectionable" entry in context with the totality and purpose of the article, the two charges are, to be utterly frank, spurious.

This has not however stopped the members of MPAC's internet forum springing into action. They decided to leap on the fact that Inigo Wilson works for Orange, and started an email campaign targeting Orange with the express purpose of getting Inigo Wilson sacked. The result of that campaign, as Guido and Iain Dale have posted, is that Inigo Wilson has been suspended by orange pending an investigation. The irony in this of course is that MPAC claims to be the leading Muslim civil liberties group, presumably freedom of speech is not something that consider a liberty worth protecting.

There are undoubtedly though two issues here. The first relates to freedom of speech generally, and the second relates to where free speech is protected. It's true that Inigo Wilson must be protected from having his work censored, and, as it stands I'm not aware that's going to happen, as the Editor of ConservativeHome, Tim Montgomerie, has made absolutely clear.

The second point though is slightly more difficult. For whilst we have freedom of speech, it may not follow that that gives us freedom to say what we like whilst being perceived as a representative of a corporate entity. Let us not forget that whilst Inigo Wilson did not write for ConservativeHome on behalf of Orange, the biography in the article linked him to them, and we must acknowledge that for some corporation's perception is enough.

Of course we must defend Inigo Wilson's freedom of speech at all costs, but that act - I think - manifests itself in supporting Tim and ConservativeHome to ensure they are not pressurised into removing Inigo's post. It is they, not Orange, where the threat to freedom of speech genuinely lies. Unfortunately, however much we may dislike Orange's decision to suspend Inigo, the argument that they're infringing on Wilson's free speech is I think an invalid one. A better argument would be that Orange should assess Inigo's post in totality and context rather than the comments in isolation as the MPAC members beleive.

Inigo Wilson, as Iain Dale rightly says, does need our support in relation to Orange. We should all take the opportunity to write to Orange and express our concern that such blanket, and arguably libellous, charges have been made against him by MPAC members and point out why. The issue of free speech is hugely significant, but it should not be misdirected towards Orange, as whatever they do the article will remain online and Inigo's freedom of speech will therefore remain intact.

Update: As Prodicus points out in the Comments, Iain Dale gave out the email address of the responsible person at orange. Do feel free to email him your thought.


Prodicus said...

Iain Dale gives the email address for the responsible person at Orange. I emailed him last night and got a courteous interim reply this morning. He must be quite busy...

Tapestry said...

'Islamophobic' literally means a person who fears Islam. Being blown up on the way to work is likely to cause fear. As the terrorism is carried out in the name of Islam, Inigo's definition is not quite correct as regards logic at least.

Can we ask the MPAC what other term they believe would be suitable for someone who fears Islamic terrorists than an Islamophobe? If they cannot come up with a suitable alternative, then we can decide if we agree with their ideas or not.

dizzy said...

The thing is, Inigo was not saying that the terms in his lexicon were literal meanings. He was referring to way the term is used by those on the Left ina catch-all manner. That's why I think it massively important to view the definition in the context of all the other definitions in the lexicon. If you do that it becomes clearly that he was attacked the mispproriation of language, not muslims.

The Daily Pundit said...

But who gains from this? Conservatives? Or a Muslim pressure group with anti-Zionist, anti-Semitic, and homophobic tendencies which now has the upper hand – the moral high ground?

He should have been sacked on the spot. He's given Labour and their Muslim block vote yet more ammunition to beat us over the head with.

Anonymous said...

The UK Daily Pundit 8/17/2006 01:54:07 PM said...

He should have been sacked on the spot. He's given Labour and their Muslim block vote yet more ammunition to beat us over the head with.

Why? Pour encourager les autres? ('To encourage the others [not to desert]' - what a French general said in WWI of men being shot for cowardice.)

If this doesn't make people hate Muslims, nothing will. I for one am sick of constantly having to watch what I say in case it might be misinterpreted by some thin-skinned individual. You have to be able to have a laugh. Or does the Koran ban laughter, unless it is to celebrate 3000 dhimmis being killed by flying aircraft into buildings?

snowflake5 said...

Mr Wilson should get his Union Rep to defend him against being unfairly disciplined (what d'ya mean he's not joined his union under the impression that unions are wicked orgs who stop employers from sacking employees over any trivial thing!) ;-)

Anonymous said...

"whatever [Orange] do the article will remain online and Inigo's freedom of speech will therefore remain intact."

But how does the punishment of Wilson, his suspension, tie in to this freedom? Wilson has been punished because he wrote something which someone found offensive. They pressured his employer to punish him - so while he has the freedom of speech, it is the freedom to speak but then be punished for it.

To my mind, a curtailment of the freedom?

dizzy said...

"But how does the punishment of Wilson, his suspension, tie in to this freedom?"


I'm not sure necessarily that it does.

Anonymous said...

hello to all.
why should someone be allowed to tarnish all the muslims with the same brush for the sake of a few who misinterpretthe koran to suit their political agendas? the koran does not tell it's followers to blow up planes and trains and kill innocent people. the terrorists misinterpret the koran in the same way the christians and jews misinterpret their holy books to suit themselves!!!! many christian priests have been found guilty of child molestation in the church which is supposed to be a holy place,in the past few years, does this mean we muslims can call all christians child molesters and pheadaphiles?????????? no? why not it would be freedom of speech would it not? if mr.wilson made equal comments about the "christian" child molesters then we could say he is a fair man who speaks his mind! but when you target only one race or or religion then you are not fair but a racist!

dizzy said...

Firstly, he didn't tar all muslims with the same brush.

Secondly, you're quite welcome to call all chrisitians paedophiles if you like. We would tackle your argument not try to get you fired.

Thirdly, a religion is not a race, period.

Fat Lady said...

Anonymouse's statement that "many Christian Priests" are child molesters and "the Christians and Jews misinterpret their holy books to suit themselves" are defamatory. Methinks Anon should be fired unless she/he balances that opinion with an acknowledgement that the Taliban enjoy a good game of hunt the sausage and Muslims enjoy laughing at jokes about Americans.

Meanwhile, loony lefties ban Christmas decorations in fear of offending Muslims, while so-called Muslim spokespeople are calling for their holy days to be public holidays in the UK and refuse to support Holocaust Day.

New definition of "slur": Any whimsical remark aimed at Muslims

Fat Lady said...

"oranges": People who only laugh at jokes about non-muslims