Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Britain's "Least Wanted".

Milton Friedman makes the point in Capitalism & Freedom that if instead of a presumption to free speech, a society chose to prohibit or allow free speech depending on the particular view being advocated, then it is likely that most minority viewpoints could be outlawed. Yet by grouping all minority viewpoints together you ensure that most people sympathise with at least sum of those viewpoints and don't want their free speech to be curtailed, therefore they support free speech in general.

This being the case it really is a very good thing that the government has released it's list of 'Britain's least wanted', a bewilderingly diverse list that includes everyone from Islamists to US talk show hosts. The criteria for banning someone is so arbitary that it could easily be used to simply ban anyone the government of the day disapproves of.

They really couldn't have done more to create opposition to these powers they have acquired.

There is a strong case for banning people who advocate violence but beyond that what someone is likely to say is no reason for barring them from this country.


James Higham said...

Surely I'm on that list.

alison said...

Robert Fisk and others have been barred from entering the USA. It's obvious the mistake here, as usual, was to be too honest and to publish the list. The venomous anti-British hatred that ensued from Savage's fans, who cheerlead his general incitement and indulge in that "eurabia" crap, reassured me that we made the right call.

alison said...

Oh and I forgot to mention the US can ban people on the grounds of "moral turpitude". Perhaps that should be the language we adopt ourselves in future less we become the focus of any further accusations of mere arbitrary bans.

Ross said...

Savage is a nut and not a nice guy, but I can understand his fans not being enamoured by Britain placing him on a list alongside terrorists and killers.

The USA has been through a period of issuing ridiculous bans (whilst leaving their southern border open) but that's no reason to imitate them.

alison said...

It's not so much that Ross. It's the very special treatment the British and this country in general receives from our Americans cousins when their noses are out of joint over something which their own government indulges frequently itself. Having "moral turpitude" written into your border control system and or refusing entry to a controversial author wearing a tall hat once, or Cat Stevens or Robert Fisk doesn't invite Britons to lose the plot in quite the same self righteous way in ressponse. Our anti-American freaks usually freak out over slightly more serious issues. That gives them credit - which I don't like to do.

Ross said...

"when their noses are out of joint over something which their own government indulges frequently itself. "Yes, but that goes back to my original point that people aren't generally upset when people they don't like have their freedoms impinged, which is why grouping together the cases of Fisk, Savage, Cat Stevens and Wilders is more likely to encourage their supporters to support free entry to hostile speakers in general.