Trannyshambles: Left in disarray over freedom of speech

The freedom to offend others is a cornerstone of a grown-up society

Alex Wickham, UK Politics Editor
On 18 January 2013 16:25

Bed-wetting transsexuals, screaming mimis and bien pensant metro-Lefties. That was just the journey to see Suzanne Moore speak at last night’s ‘Soho Skeptics’ Leveson debate.

The controversial, often ‘contrarian’ Guardian columnist has been at the centre of a quite a storm this past week. These last few days have said much about freedom of speech in this country, and interestingly, within the hallowed halls of the Grauniad.

For those unfamiliar with the civil war that has erupted between the Left’s most vaunted public emissaries, here is a quick recap:

Moore’s claim last week that the ideal female body shape was that of a “Brazilian transsexual” lit the fuse for an almighty battle between the furious feminists and the chicks with dicks. There, I said it. And while I imagine The Commentator would be less than keen on this turn of phrase (Editor’s note: we are) – the freedom to express what was intimated by Julie Burchill is the very form of journalistic freedom that her paymasters at the Observer would have her rescind.

The red mist descended for Burchill, whose extraordinary rant was deleted Pravda-style from the annals of the Internet, by her Observer overlords. In jumped the shouty Lib Dem Member of Parliament, Lynne ‘Greenham Common’ Featherstone, to demand her dismissal. Cue chaos.

As much as brutal Left-wing infighting is a spectator sport deserving of prime-time viewing, its protagonists should be ashamed of their assault on one of our most fundamental rights. This week brought victory for the noble Reform Section 5 campaign which has succeeded in convincing the government to amend the law deeming insulting language illegal.

Thanks to their sterling effort, the more audacious amongst us are now free to walk up to a policeman and inform him that his horse is gay. But it represents much more than that.

It is only thanks to these defenders of freedom that I can tell the press-hating Dr Evan Harris - who fought the case to regulate the media last night - that his frankly disturbing eyes make him look as if he has spent the last week monged out on LSD. And that the haughty, nasal snort he does when he is craving attention had members of the audience, not least the blonde near the front that he had his beady eyes on, grimacing with disgust.

It is only thanks to freedom of speech that I can sleep easy knowing I will not be prosecuted for saying that Helen Lewis, the debate’s chair, is one of those pseudo-feminist all-knowing self-appointed moral arbiter morons that typify everything that is wrong with the elitist Left. Her willingness to allow last night’s discussion to be dominated by Harris and Nick Cohen hardly did much for the sisterhood, either.

Our freedom to offend permits me to ridicule Laurie Penny, another attendee last night, for her burlesque dancing past. I could be equally insulting about her laughable gall to tell Julie Burchill how to write a column, but she would probably just bask in the glow of knowing someone, somewhere is talking about her.

The freedom to offend others is a cornerstone of a grown-up society. That some on the Left have attempted to deny the likes of Moore and Burchill the right to be rude is a great concern. From claiming that they ‘owned the weekend’, the Guardian Media Group, of which the Observer is a part of, swiftly moved into the territory of disowning it.

Moreover, that a government minister called for a journalist to be sacked is both shocking and pathetic - a little like one of those yappy poodles that spends all day barking at you from behind a fence, but whose teeth you would rather not feel in your Achilles tendon.

The finest speaker at yesterday’s debate was of course Nick Cohen, not least for his defence of the 1st Amendment, which Britain would do well to find itself adopting:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

It cannot be put better than that.

Alex Wickham is The Commentator's UK Political Editor and a reporter at the Guido Fawkes website. He tweets at @WikiGuido

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