If any of you read my little article on engaging with a Christian charity on the subject of Britain First and racism, you will have seen, at the foot of the piece, links to articles in the Worcester News covering our recent day of action in the city.
I followed the links myself as I was interested to see how they dealt with the exchanges between Paul and Marc Bayliss. I didn't expect much in the way of even-handedness in the reporting and I wasn't disappointed in that respect. It would be fair to say the coverage was somewhat disingenuous.
In fact, what came to my mind was a witty epigram which I first read, I think, in an essay by George Orwell. Orwell was quoting this himself and, as I recall (though it is difficult to be sure at this distance in time), he did not know who the author was. In fact, it was a civil servant named Humbert Wolfe and it was written about a century ago.
Anyway, here it is:
You cannot hope to bribe or twist,
thank God! the British journalist.
But, seeing what the man will do
unbribed, there's no occasion to.
Orwell, of course, was a noted journalist himself, but pretty much the exception to the rule. He recognised that freedom of the press, if it was allowed to exist at all, had many angles. It should mean the freedom to criticise or oppose. It should also mean the freedom to seek the truth about any situation.
As one man's truth may be another man's poison, this aspect of freedom should include some sense of balance. Too often, the only use some journalists make of this 'freedom' is to slander and attack those whom they are politically opposed to. The result can be that, in some newspapers, outside of the sports pages, the only thing that you can take for certain will be accurate is the date of publication.
I have never been a journalist but would imagine that the profession should require a degree of moral (and sometimes physical) courage. Nowhere is this more obvious today than in the reporting of any matters relating to Islam. Bill Maher, the US liberal comedian and no friend to Conservatives or Christians has commented that, if he insults the Pope, he doesn't expect the pontiff to send one of his Swiss Guards around to 'shove a pike up (his) a...'. But, if you insult Islam, 'they will f...... kill you'. Charlie Hebdo, Theo van Gogh etc. are witness to that.
Maher is an outlier amongst the US left. A liberal who is prepared to talk openly about the dangers of Islam. His UK counterpart was, in my view, the late Christopher Hitchens. Again, no friend to Conservatives or Christians, but a brave man. For all that I profoundly disagreed with Hitchens on many subjects, I wish he were still around today as a strong voice against the appeasement of Islam.
Hitchens and Maher are, as I said, outliers. The great bulk of journalists and other commentators conform to the official line that Islam is the 'religion of peace'. It is unlikely, whether through fear for their lives or simply concern over career advancement, that anyone will break ranks.
As for anyone else who tries to publicly challenge the official orthodoxy, he or she will quickly find themselves silenced by the authorities. The tool of choice for the authorities now is the 'hate speech' (what Orwell termed 'thoughtcrime') legislation. The use of this tool has become almost manically hysterical as the police and judiciary, under orders, sniff out dissenters to Islamic fundamentalism.
'Hate speech' prosecutions have become the means to erode and destroy free speech. Oh, for a Hitchens or an Orwell to return and lead the fight of ideas - freedom vs fundamentalism.
What we need now are more unruly tongues!
Robert from Britain First West Yorkshire branch (firstname.lastname@example.org)