Free Speech Dies in UK: Robert Spencer, Pamela Geller Banned from Entering
“U.S. Bloggers banned from Entering the UK.”
That’s how a BBC headline broke the news that authors Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer were denied entry to the country that gave the world the Magna Carta.
“Blogger,” you see, is an insinuating term. Not quite a term of abuse, but still a word that imparts diminishment. Who are you going to believe, asked Dan Rather when questioned about his -- as it turned out, fraudulent -- story about George W. Bush’s military service: me, Dan Rather of CBS, or some blogger sitting in front of his computer in his pajamas?
Good question, Dan! Why don’t you think about that in your ignominious retirement and get back to us -- or, on second thought, don’t get back to us. Just think about what a preening fool you made of yourself before even CBS had had enough and cashiered you.
Geller and Spencer are both, in different ways, prominent critics of Islamism -- i.e., of that strong current of militant Islam that seeks to spread the intolerant ideology of Islam in the West through the imposition of sharia in Western countries. You might agree with their views, and then again, you might not.
That’s hardly the point, is it?
A spokesman for the Home Office welcomed the ban on Geller and Spencer, explaining: “The UK should never become a stage for inflammatory speakers who promote hate.” Hmm -- “who promote hate.” Query: do Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer “promote hate”? Or is that just a rhetorical epithet employed by ideologues bent on advancing a certain politically correct agenda in order to stifle criticism? (Another question: what is a “hate crime”? Is a crime more of a crime because it was committed by someone who dislikes the victim? Or is it like the term “social justice,” a piece of rhetorical legerdemain intended to lend gravity to a noun by the act of prefacing an emotionally charged but irrelevant adjective?)
The point is that the metabolism of liberal democracy depends upon the free exchange of ideas, which means, in part, a vigorous circulation of competing ideas. No less a figure than John Stuart Mill, in On Liberty, pointed out: “He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that.” There is plenty to criticize in Mill, heaven knows (and I’ve done my bit to criticize him), but he was surely right that liberal democracy depends in part upon fostering the “collision” of competing ideas.
The irony of the situation is rich. Geller and Spencer speak out against the intolerance of Islam. Got that? They speak. They lecture. They write books. Spencer’s written a shelf of them. Geller was behind a campaign to place “defeat jihad” posters in New York subways. One of the reasons they were traveling to the UK was to participate in a commemorative ceremony for Drummer Lee Rigby. Remember him? He was the chap who, last month, was walking down a street in Woolwich when two Muslims ran him down in a car and then stabbed and hacked him to death with knives and a cleaver. Like the Earl of Strafford, their motto was “thorough.” When these partisans of the religion of peace got through with him, he had to be identified by dental records.
Geller and Spencer are denied entry to the UK. Quoth a government spokesman: individuals whose presence “is not conducive to the public good” may be denied entry by the Home secretary. He explained: “We condemn all those whose behaviours and views run counter to our shared values and will not stand for extremism in any form.”
That pretty much covers the waterfront, doesn’t it? Disagree with me and I’ll have you named an enemy of the state.