Sunday, 20 July 2008

One law for them?

Apparently two Britons, Simon Sheppard and Stephen Whittle, who have been convicted at Leeds Crown Court of publishing race-hate articles on the internet, have skipped bail and flown to America, where they have claimed political asylum.

Given that the first amendment of the US constitution guarantees the right of free speech, such a prosecution would technically be impossible in America, so one might expect the US authorities to view this claim sympathetically. However, in reality, the chances of Sheppard and Whittle receiving a sympathetic hearing in America are remote irrespective of the merits of their claims.

Since the fall of the Berlin wall, very few, if any, white Europeans have benefited from Asylum legislation either here or in the States. Some might argue that most European countries no longer have oppressive governments so their citizens do not qualify for asylum. Others would question that assertion, and in any event how can these two men be considered guilty of anything other than a thought crime and the false belief that the right of free speech existed in Britain?.

These two men have a valid claim for asylum. Indeed it could be argued that the first amendment of the US constitution, was written specifically to protect people like Mr Sheppard and Mr Whittle, however, I suspect that the modern day reality is that they are the wrong colour to benefit from it's protection. I may be being pessimistic but I suspect that the most likely outcome from this case will be that their claim will be rejected and they will be swiftly shipped back to the UK to face sentencing. If so, that will be a shameful day for America, as it will signify the abandonment of any pretence to a belief in Universal civil rights, and expose their Asylum laws as offering protection only for a preferred non white minority. (as many a white South African may soon learn, should their worst fears become reality and they find themselves in need of a safe haven)

Whether or not America shames itself, this case has already shamed Britain, which is exposed again as a land where if you think, say or write something which the state does not approve of you can be subject to a show trial and get sent to prison.

In modern day Britain, telling the truth is no defence against hate crime charges.

The 1976 race relations act is a piece of legislation, amongst others, of which the worst totalitarian state could be proud, because it had the effect of enshrining in law the fact an opinion can be illegal, and that telling the truth can be a criminal act, if it is the wrong truth.

Britain calls itself a free country, however, it is many years since it was any such thing.
Some of Sheppard and Whittle's writing remains available on their website, so you can judge for yourselves, they certainly express views I do not agree with, but that is the way with free speech. Free speech and the right to hold an opinion however offensive, are essential to a free society, it is in totalitarian states that these things are suppressed.


adsie said...

I think you confuse free speech with offensiveness, hatefulness and incitement to violence.

Of course there's a danger that the law may decide to misuse the law to suppress political/religious belief.

If the beliefs in question encourage goodwill among men, or enhance individual autonomy, then noone can claim that their suppression serves any purpose.

On the other hand, where beliefs seek to cause offence against groups traditionally marginalized and exploited, then the "right" of free speech becomes abused.

Sarah Maid of Albion said...

I don't believe that there is a human right not to be offended. In fact I can think of a number of groups, including some you might view as marginalised, who deserve to be offended on a regular basis.

Those who determine what is hateful and what constitutes offensiveness invariably make those determinations on the basis of the views they wish to suppress. Which is also how it works in totalitarian states.

The deeply sinister aspect to it is that the truth can constitute so called "hate speech" when it is a truth which those who make these decisions do not want told.

That is why we should all be afraid, because the most dangerous amongst us do not seek to offend people, they seek to silence them.

Vanishing American said...

At least here in America, free speech has always been held to include even "offensive" speech, at least until the present reign of political correctness. Long ago, Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes said,

“If there is any principle of the Constitution that more imperatively calls for attachment than any other, it is the principle of free thought, not free thought for those who agree with us but freedom for the thought that we hate.”

Of course there are no men of Holmes' calibre or character in high places here in the US these days, so I'm afraid asylum won't be granted -- to America's discredit and shame.

Censoring so-called 'hate speech' is simply trying to control thought and feeling, and to stifle truth where it offends those in power.

adsie said...

How can anyone ever be said to deserve offence!?

I agree entirely with Wendell Holmes. We should celebrate free thought. Free thought means imagination, free from prejudice. And he specifically says, freedom for the thought we hate - not for opinions that are hateful.

There is no question that those in power will try to stifle truth that offends them. But what is there to celebrate about those without power who are offended? said...

Thank you on following up as you said that you would do.

Sarah Maid of Albion said...

So, you don't believe that members of the Westboro baptist church, who picket soldiers' funerals and tell their grieving families that their sons are burning in hell deserve to be offended?

Or Islamic mullahs who express similar views about gays, women and westerners, do they not deserve to be offended?.

The Asian men who groom under aged English girls for sex, should they be protected from offense?,

MagnaCarta said...

Oh well, I await the handcuffs then. If saying something against something or someone you are against publicly is a crime, then I hope they have a cell ready for me.

They won't silence me easily!


Vanishing American said...

Who decides what is 'hateful'? Do we dare give a few people power over what we can say and what we can't say, and about whom?

Members of certain groups are able to say openly hateful things towards the majority; they do so with impunity by claiming that only those with power are capable of 'hate speech' or racism.
This is just false. Certain groups get carte blanche to say quite objectively ugly things and they are given free rein, because of their protected status.
The rest of us have to watch what we say lest we are accused of 'hate speech'. Here in the USA we still have a modicum of freedom compared to other Western countries but not for long I am afraid. And when we lose our freedom of expression, it will be because certain vociferous factions demand freedom for their own hateful speech but demand not to be offended in return.

Sarah Maid of Albion said...

Of course it is always those with power who an determine what constitutes hate speech, be it the old Apartheid government in SA, the Mullahs in Iran, the generals in Burma or the Islington junta. said...

The problem is, the Weimar Republic had [hate speech laws]. It used them freely against the Nazis. Far from stopping Hitler, they only made his day when he became Chancellor. They enabled Hitler to confront Social Democratic Party chairman Otto Wels, who stood up in the Reichstag to protest Nazi suspension of civil liberties, with a quotation from the poet Friedrich Schiller:

"'Late you come, but still you come,'" Hitler pointed at the hapless deputy. "You should have recognized the value of criticism during the years we were in opposition [when] our press was forbidden, our meetings were forbidden, and we were forbidden to speak for years on end."

adsie said...

So, you don't believe that members of the Westboro baptist church, who picket soldiers' funerals and tell their grieving families that their sons are burning in hell deserve to be offended?

You mean, would I scream abuse at them? No, I don't think they deserve to be offended. Do I think their opinions and attitudes are hideously misplaced? Of course. But that is hardly justification for abusing them.

I stand by my original post - free speech is an excellent ideal, and there is a simple test of whether or not it is used or abused. Does the opinion expressed demonstrate tolerance of difference, understanding, respect and tolerance?

"It is when people assert the rights of others, not just themselves, that the cause of fundamental rights and freedoms is best advanced." - Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty said...

Monday, July 28, 2008

UK Thought Criminals Sheppard and Whittle Jailed in LA

Sarah Maid of Albion said...

Ah! but of course, those words “tolerate difference” the chant of the new oppression. That misleading and slyly crafted mantra has been used to silence debate and vilify opposition for almost four decades. It, and similar phrases like it, have been used to intimidate and vilify anyone who does not embrace the new orthodoxy in order to transform half of Europe without ever putting your imposed orthodoxy to any popular vote.

No political party in any Western nation has ever fought an election on a mandate of increased multiculturalism or diversity, they impose it by deceit and using dishonest tactics such as accusing their opponents of spreading hate and “intolerance of difference”.

Of course tolerance of difference is only allowed in respect of imposed difference, but I guess that may be because there is so much more to tolerate. Which is just one of the reasons why such phrases are so dishonest.

Consider what you are saying for a moment,must we tolerate all difference, or just approved and pretty ones? murderers are different, do we tolerate them?, rapists are different, and mostly imported (check the statistics!) are we supposed to tolerate them as well? In terms of different cultures, women who mutilate their daughter's genitals are different, so are parents who force their daughters into forced marriages, or brutalise and murder them on account of “honour”, are they to be tolerated? If so there are a hell of a lot of them to tolerate.

What of the large number of Muslims who believe that homosexuals should be executed, or those who believe that women are inferior and that their husbands have the right to beat them?, I certainly am not going to tolerate that, however, politically incorrect that may make me.

The vast majority of gang rapes are perpetrated by blacks or Asians, Viva la difference, and recent figures demonstrate that black youths are 13 times more likely than whites to commit knife crime, yet these are even more differences we are forced to tolerate, and really expected not mention.

This command that we tolerate difference which is waved in our faces as if it were holy writ, has been used in order to change our nation, and huge swathes of Europe beyond recognition, without ever submitting the campaign to democracy. It is in itself a weapon of intolerance of any contrary view or any opposition.

Another thing, what do mean when you spoke about “screaming abuse”? who screamed abuse? The two men who are applying for political asylum in America were not convicted of screaming anything. They wrote words and expressed written opinions, as free men have through out the ages, that was their crime.

However, in your argument you refer to that as “screaming abuse”, because, as ever with those who argue as you do, you can only win by misrepresenting the opposition. said...

What ever we may think of some of their website content , they deserve support any letters or reading material would be appreciated to releve boredom in jail.

Sheppard, Simon
0800006404, 4B B2
C/O Santa Ana Jail
PO Box 22003
62 Civil Center Plaza
Santa Ana

Dear ,

Many thanks to you and Kate for the letters, received this morning. They cheered us up considerably, practically the only news we've had. It seems that our scheme of seeking political asylum was a good one, even if it doesn't work out in the end it will have made a point and embarrassed the UK government (which they certainly deserve).

We appealed the first official we saw at LAX with "I'm sorry to be a nuisance but we wish to claim political asylum." Thence we were processed for about 12-14 hours. Then held in "tanks" for 24 hours. After our rapid flight it took about a week to recover from this (jet lag also part of the equation). We are currently in a federal jail, could be a lot worse. Steve and I have managed to stay together, though it's been touch and go at times and we are presently sharing a two-person cell. The asylum claim may take 3 months.

If I read you right, there was no conviction for the printed matter (holohoax and DBS) so on appeal we could be completely aquitted. That's good news, but entirely representative of the malicious nature of the prosecution if they are seeking a retrial on just those remaining charges.

The more publicity we can get, the better. It has cost us dear in travel expenses and so forth and the publicity is its benefit (even though twisted, mendacious, etc. - they say all publicity is good publicity). I'm only allowed two free letters (I only discovered this yesterday! Also my list of addresses is locked away elsewhere) so I hope you don't mind if I use this letter to you to convey messages to others, and a few misc. items:

Anyway, we are taking it easy after the stress of our flight and reading lots of books. Please convey our thanks and best wishes to all those who have expressed their support. We're doing our best not to let them down.

All the best,