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Reader’s Comment of the day: Voltaire’s maxim cast aside, we live in sinister times


In response to Andrew Cadman: Professor’s crucifixion reminds us that the Conservative Party never defends conservatives, sfin wrote:

It is high time that these demonisations for opinions voiced (or jokey asides, as in Sir Tim Hunt’s case) were tested in law.

The fact that an eminent scientist can be removed from two positions for voicing an opinion should alarm us all as it runs counter to everything that I was brought up to believe (and fight for). Namely that free expression is a cornerstone of being a British citizen.

The rot started with Jenkins, I agree, but it reached its nadir under Blair with the “hate speech” laws (define “hate”) leading to arrests of people for, amongst other things, reading out the names of recent war dead at the cenotaph and quoting Winston Churchill in a public speech. Blair has further form in his attempts to imprison without trial for up to 42 days and his recent calling for a Europe-wide law making “holocaust denial” a criminal offence.

Under the “heir to Blair” Cameron we have had the spectacle of the police demanding names from newsagents of all those who bought the Charlie Hebdo magazine in the wake of the Paris atrocity. As someone who was brought up to believe that we all held to Voltaire’s (mis)quote: “I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” I think we live in very sinister times.

Like I said in my first paragraph, we need a challenge for constructive dismissal in this case and I stand ready to contribute to any legal fund set up on Sir Tim’s behalf.

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