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. email@example.com