Freedom of speech and the press is under attack in the UK right now. And it is not the government that is leading the charge, but bleating celebrities who are upset that their tightly controlled media image is being sullied by tabloid journos who don’t do what they are told.
The protesters have a group called “Hacked Off” which is doing all it can to obfuscate the plight of the real “victims” of press overreach who aren’t celebrities. The Leveson Inquiry was set up in response to outrageous phone hacking scandal that affected most of the British tabloids and even caused the closing of The New of the World by its owner News International. It was a disgrace that they hacked the phones of murder victims and their families to get a story. The actual victims quite rightly are upset and should be compensated by the publications that violated their rights.
However they should not be hijacked by moaning celebrities and politicians miffed at being exposed for being expenses cheats. Oh yes, and the rest of British society and its long proud history of a free press should not be curtailed in a fit of pique.
After watching the press conference by Lord Leveson, who recently conducted an inquiry into the hacking scandal, and some of the reaction from politicians I posted the following on Facebook. "Only a politician could think a law could make the press freer than it is now." It got quite a bit of comment from friends of mine, not surprisingly considering many of them are Libertarian leaning, and/or journalist/bloggers/writers. Furthermore it became quite surprising to some that they were agreeing with Brittish Prime Minister David Cameron, who is resisting all calls for statutory regulations on the press.
It is not only Cameron who has been on the right side of this issue. Foreign Secretary William Hague had this to say.
“A new law would limit Britain’s ability to speak out over cases such as the jailing of the Pussy Riot protesters.”
The ruling coalition is split asunder by this issue with Conservatives on one side and the Liberal Democrats on the other. The fact a party called “Liberal” is attacking basic rights in such a way seems to be lost on them.
What even more worrying is that many of politicians think the Leveson recommendations do not go far enough and should limit free speech on the internet as well. It is quite possible that this obsession all to bring one gossip site, Guido Fawkes, to heel. Well we know that is the case but one politico said exactly that.
It is sadly typical these days that certain politicians and other entitled interests want to subject the entire country to a distinct abrogation of their rights, merely to get at one particular group or individual they are irked with. The British tradition of free speech and a free press can be damned in order to soothe the feelings of Britain's self-entitled politicians and celebutards.