What does free speech and opposition to government oppression look like? One second-generation Briton just gave a viral lesson on those two principles that a lot of people aren’t going to forget anytime soon.
The video in question comes from a protest against the detention of activist Tommy Robinson — presumably outside of Downing Street in London, where the largest ones have been held — for recording suspects in a “grooming” case as they entered a courtroom.
Before we begin, it’s worth noting that Robinson — one of the founders of the English Defence League before he left the organization — is a highly controversial figure whose opinions on Islam and immigration are often associated with the U.K.’s far right.
Robinson claims he’s merely acting in opposition to the ideological excesses of Islam and the externalities it can bring — in this case, for instance, grooming gangs. However, his associations with extremists have made him one of the most problematic figures in all of Britain.
However, there was little problematic with what he was arrested for doing — namely, streaming Facebook Live video outside of a grooming trial in West Yorkshire on Friday morning.
Much like Robinson, so-called “grooming” trials have been controversial, but for different reasons. The trials cover a series of related incidents in which hundreds of children were raped, exploited or trafficked by gangs in cities across the UK. The controversy has centered around the fact that the vast majority of the suspects in the cases — 84 percent, according to reports — are Asian. At least, that’s how it’s reported in the media.
This covers for one of the other unpleasant truths involving these grooming gangs: The vast majority of the suspects are Pakistani and Bangladeshi, a fact which the media seems exceptionally loath to report. This has prompted activists like Robinson to take up the grooming cases as a cause celebre, which included merely streaming from outside the court. This got him arrested for breaching the peace.
It didn’t take long until his supporters came out to protest his arrest — including one second-generation immigrant who wasn’t doing anything threatening but was still pressured by a rather intimidating police officer to cease his protest.
“I’m politely refusing, sir. I’m not trying to be rude to you,” the man said as he was being pressured to leave.
“I want you to know that any fear and intimidation you put in me doesn’t come anywhere near to the abstract horror I feel when children are being abused by grown men.”
The man said that he was standing up for the next generation of British people.
“I’m a second-generation immigrant,” he said. “I love my country. … I want democracy, I want fairness and I want when any of my English brothers who protest against injustice to be treated fairly.”
The problem, of course, is that England doesn’t actually have codified freedom of speech or the press. (For those who don’t believe me, quickly Google the term “superinjunction.”) This police officer could have arrested this man at any time, the same way Robinson was arrested.
Now, let me here state that I’m not a fan of Robinson. In my experience with him, he seems to be a very mild version of those Louis Farrakhan-esque individuals who sound sensible before the media and then break out the crazy and/or bigoted stuff whenever their supporters are the audience.
However, you know what Farrakhan — who is a demonstrably worse person — gets in America? The freedom to say whatever he wants. So do his supporters. That’s the way it should be.
In fact, that’s the only way to have a functioning society.
I don’t know what’s Robinson’s heart, but I do know his convictions against government oppression. And make no mistake, this is oppression. In fact, media outlets couldn’t even report on Robinson’s arrest over the weekend, forget even the grooming trial.
And this is in 2018 Great Britain, supposedly one of the bastions of democracy and free speech. Is this really what we’ve come to?
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