Thursday, 20 November 2008

Voices on Liberty

The BNP are continuing to bewail their "outing" on the Internet. It raises an interesting question (OR 4!)about freedom. I agree that everyone has a right to express their beliefs, even if I hate their contents. But there is no such thing as total unconditional freedom. If you have the freedom to express objectionable views, then others have the freedom to oppose or criticise them. One strain of complaint is that the public revelation of political views may put the holders employment in danger or even their lives. But there are certain views that ought to debar one from certain posts. Racist views are rightly unacceptable in the Police or Prison services. Similarly I as a Christian would not expect to be employed as media officer for the National Secular Society - my beliefs and theirs are mutually incompatible. if you are misguided enough to think like the BNP, then it should scarcely come as a surprise that people might not want to employ you because they do not wish their organisation to be tainted with your views and attitudes.

But this is a slippery slope. We see objections to the employment of Muslims in certain posts because of what it is assumed they believe. And ditto Christians. There has been considerable fuss about Christians adopting children because they are seen as being homophobic. Surely sense says that individuals ought to be held accountable for what they believe, rather than using broad brush prescriptions? After all, there are liberal and conservative shades in all belief groups. Some Anglicans are horrid homophobes and not all RC's are anti-abortion.

Besides this, there is certainly a degree of hypocrisy in the BNP (who ain't in favour of the EU or the Human Rights Act) threating to use that legislation to secure privacy.


  1. It is indeed a slippery slope, for the reasons you suggest. But also because certain types of expression of belief are not easily countered by cool, reasoned argument. On the contrary, because they appeal to emotion and prejudice, they make people deaf to evidence for the contrary case. And the more 'respectable' the source of the prejudice, the more difficult it is to raise doubts in people's minds.

  2. That is the real problem with the "New Model" BNP. They look so much more middle class and respectable than the skinhead yobs of yore and folks might be tempted to think they are different. The line about leopards and spots comes to mind!