March 24, 2006

Rally for Denmark!

The attempt in Britain to hold a "March for Freedom of Expression" is having a spot of bother. Problem is, first of all, they had to meet with the Police to let PC Plod know "what banners and signs might say or show."

Is this the same Police force that did nothing about murderous placards at demonstrations by Islamist extremists in London in May 2005 and in February 2006, only responding in the latter case after the event when there was a public and press outcry? Here is what happened in May 2005 according to CNN:
A British policeman said the language was offensive and unpleasant in the extreme. But police overlooked that and the fact that more than a few of the young men in the crowd covered their faces, technically a violation of British law, according to the police.
Shouting, "Down, down USA; down, down USA," the protesters called for the killing of Americans, the death of the U.S. president, the death of British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the bombing of Britain, and the annihilation of the U.S. capital: "Nuke, nuke Washington; Nuke, nuke Washington! Bomb, bomb the Pentagon."
My letter to my MP on this matter elicited a reply from Hazel Blears at the Home Office that read as if it has been copied off a press release website. These reported comments from the boys in blue to the "March for Free Expression" organizers were interesting:
they [the Police] asked us to consider the cost to the taxpayer of policing a march and the inconvenience it would cause Londoners.
The "inconvenience" of a "March for Free Expression"--wouldn't want that in a free society would we?

Now the "March for Free Expression" has appealed for attendees not to bring copies of the Danish cartoons, leading people to ask if the event is really about freedom of expression. Talk about tying yourself in knots. You'll find a discussions of this led by the indefatigable David T over at Harry's Place

A simple Danish solidarity event, venue easy to find (the Danish embassy), would have sufficed, like this one.

Andrew Apostolou (lego my jim jams).

Pic from the DC rally, courtesy of Corsair the Rational Pirate:

060311_haig_vmed_7p.hmedium[1].jpg

Posted by Andrew Apostolou at March 24, 2006 05:55 AM
Comments

Since the "Behzti" riots in Birmingham and the discussions of "hate-speech" legislation in the UK, it has often seemed to me that it is to England's disadvantage that it does not seem to have a flat-out gurantee in fundamental law (i.e. Constitutional right) to "freedom of speech [and] the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." (see Bastion of Liberty: Salients from Historical U.S. Documents)

In my Connecticut (New England) hometown some years back, opponents of the Finance Board's town budget proposal called to exercise the option (as per the town charter) of a referendum on the matter. The Finance Board tried to argue against holding a referendum by saying it would cost the town (of 18,000 persons) about $10,000 to mount such an exercise. The argument was soundly trumped when an assemblyman* observed, "Such is the cost of doing business in a democracy." And, in due course, the referendum was held.

Wouldn't it be nice if the same rebuttal was as persuave in England? Then someone could trump, in like manner, MP Hazel Blears's call "to consider the cost to the taxpayer of policing a march and the inconvenience it would cause Londoners," with, "Such is the cost of doing business in a democracy. Would you have it otherwise?

[*The "assemblyman" (properly, Representative Town Meeting member) Andria Stillman is now a leading State Senator.]

Posted by: Ralph at March 24, 2006 08:56 AM

To clarify just one element that should never go un-enforced or be enforced sloppily.

** But police overlooked that and the fact that more than a few of the young men in the crowd covered their faces, technically a violation of British law, according to the police.**

Men with masked faces must be arrested, photographed and documented promptly if demonstrating in a free society.

Men cover their faces to rob banks, burn buildings, cat burgle and carry out the good works of the KKK.

Some women cover their faces for reasons of modesty, religious or otherwise. Yet masked women taking part in demonstrations should also be documented.

Sorry if you think this is too severe. My logic is simple. Why charge a paid police to do a job and tie their hands at the same time?

I suspect it is the most intelligent and maliciously stealthy who cover their identity. TG

Posted by: TonyGuitar at March 24, 2006 09:51 AM

Men with masked faces must be arrested, photographed and documented promptly if demonstrating in a free society.

Irony just shot itself.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at March 24, 2006 11:48 AM

More on one particular aspect of the D.C. rally here:

The entrance to the Danish Embassy is marked with the letter "B". Less than fifty feet away is a square three-dormer-per-side Georgian house, the only one of its kind on the block...

Posted by: Solomon2 at March 24, 2006 12:36 PM
Now the "March for Free Expression" has appealed for attendees not to bring copies of the Danish cartoons, leading people to ask if the event is really about freedom of expression.

This issue about the cartoons needs to be dissected. There is an important issue about islamists intimidating people who disagree. This is what we in the west should be demonstrating against.

This should not eclipse the fact the mohamid cartoons are in fact offensive. Unflattering cartoons about Moses or Jesus to make political statements would also be offensive. The need to keep the mohammed cartoons in the public eye is like a little kid who keeps repeating a four letter word to get the goat of the adult that is trying to stop him. It is the immature reaction of someone who feels helpless.

There are much better ways to demonstrate against intimidation than to insist on being offensive. One way would be to make it a point by carrying signs indicating that intimidation is the problem rather than a religion hijacked by a few extremists.

The whole cartoon thing was inflamed in a deliberate plot by extermists moths after the cartoons were first published. Continually ressurecting the cartoons plays right into their hands.

The point that has to be repeated over and over is not the need for a right to be offensive, but the right to be free from intimidation. The cartoons distract from this point.

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