Is it necessary to once again address our Nick and his many manias? Well, probably not, but I suppose that that's never stopped me before.
This week, the purported topic is Tony Blair's desire to criminalise Holocaust-denial, with swipes at David Cameron's policies on anti-extremism, although as ever it's largely about how much Nick doesn't like students, unnamed liberals and anonymous leftists. Thus, do we end up with the bizarre assertion that Tony's desire to drop the legal banhammer on motherfuckers means that he has now become similar to "the average British or American university".
Now, we might note that students don't often imprison people that they disagree with; that there's a non-trivial difference between jailing people and just disinviting them from your organised chinwag, and that there's something of a power-and-influence gap between said students, and Tony and his pals. I myself am somewhat more concerned about David Cameron's thoughts on free speech, than I am about what a nebulous shower of non-specific citizens think about it, since the former has the ability to act upon his threats, and the latter don't.
Sharp-eyed observers will also note that Tony's ASBO-pumping, banning-and-jailing behaviour peaked in roughly 2006 while he was Prime Minister of the nation, which suggests that even if we assume that there's a similarity, it'd be the students who are becoming more like Tony, rather than the other way around*.
And perhaps it's only me, but I also get the feeling that Nick's trying to say that Tony's behaviour is new and in some way unexpected, much like it was back when Nick was previously astounded to discover that Tony is willing to turn a blind eye to tyranny, if it's in his interest to do so. It's unfortunate because, if Nick hadn't found Tony's behaviour so surprising, he might have noticed that this is hardly the first time that Blair has taken a position at a supposedly progressive organisation, and then used it to push for dafter and more authoritarian policies**.
Anyway, Nick is correct on the broad strokes, and hilariously off-target in the fine detail, as is so often the case. I suppose that I could go into greater detail on stuff like this:
(Governments) will not let you defend the values of Charlie Hebdo and the shoppers at the Hypercacher at the same time and for the same reasons. You must betray one or the other.
...By noting that Nick has not actually been hauled off to the Gulag for defending anyone's values, and neither have any of his pals. Until the day dawns when there's a reasonable prospect of Nick being clapped in irons for saying that he doesn't much like the Islamists, we could probably dial down the hyperbole a tad.
And it's worth noting that while Nick is busy portraying himself as a kind of blobby Cassandra, Scotland is literally jailing idiots for singing offensive songs, seemingly without Nick or his pals noticing. Were I to do as Nick does, I'd use this as an excuse to claim that Nick and his middle-class, metropolitan liberal pals do not defend free speech in their own country because they are obsessed with attacking convenient targets that do not challenge their smug certainties, and so on. Since I try not to be a prick unnecessarily however, I won't make a big song and dance about it.
So let's just note once more that Nick's Free-Speech-Hooray! Drastic-Clampdowns-Boo! stance is correct, and ask yet again - exactly how helpful is it that our most prominent free speech campaigners can't say bluntly that we shouldn't criminalise hateful rhetoric, without also stuffing their statements with irrelevant burble aimed at all of the unnamed badthinkers whom they've always hated anyway?
If Nick's keen to attract support for a key democratic principle that's under attack, maybe it'd be more effective to focus on the people leading the assault, rather than muddying the issue up by bleating about how much you dislike some people who are very much like you, but a bit less pissy about everything.
*Another example of these hilariously arse-over-tit priorities from the World of Decency this week - a Martian who knew nothing at all of human ways and read this HP Sauce post, would have to conclude that Tariq Aziz, Saddam's former deputy prime minister, was primarily a terrible person because he was mates with George Galloway.
**I suspect that this framing is necessary due to Nick's former
endorsement of Tony's idiotic wars, which he addresses in his piece with
only the following statement:
that Holocaust-denial become a crime duly produced the expected mixture
of “how dare he even speak after Iraq” reactions.
is certainly an odd way of putting it, implying as it does that an instinctive
dislike of people who bomb, invade and occupy other countries is some
kind of frightful prejudice. Yes, it truly is terrible that a man can't even make war on other nations for no sane reason, without people holding it against him.