Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Dear Michael White - freedom of movement shouldn't be 'a laugh'

The Home Secretary has published a list of people who she says are barred from coming to the UK because their presence here is likely to provoke violence or hatred.

On that list is American radio host ('shock jock') Michael Savage. Quite how Smith and her officials singled him out to appear on a list with hate-mongering skinheads, islamist fundamentalists and so on is beyond me. I've never listened to his show, but I doubt very much that he is advocating riots in the streets or violence against any section of the community and he protests that he does not.

So why ban him? His ideas are pretty obnoxious - he believes that autism is make believe in 99% of cases, he hates liberals and foreigners and so on - but so what. Just because you have idiot thoughts shouldn't mean you should be banned from speaking them unless they actively inspire violence. Here is where Savage differs from the Phelps clan. Fred Phelps and his daughter (as memorably seen in a recent Louis Theroux documentary) picket soldiers funerals saying that the death is good because it is God's revenge on America for homosexuality. Such behaviour, if he did it here, is almost certain to inspire violence. Even in these cases it is better to punish any breaches of the law here than to ban entry to the UK in my view.

In a blog on the Guardian website, 'Sir' Michael White seems to find this situation quite funny. He says:

"the funny bit is the sound of a rich American media type who gets handsomely
paid to hand it out squealing like a stuck pig when someone duffs him back."


Some of us don't think that the denial of civil liberties, even for American idiots, is a funny matter.

Tell you what Michael. Next time you are completely desperate to go to the loo and you are in a public place, someone should hold you back so you can't get to a toilet. Then would you find it funny?

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