Monday, May 27, 2013

Gates and freedom of expression

The iron gate inside Great Gate at Trinity
To Cambridge to have supper with daughter whose History Finals are soon. Great to see her. Rowan Williams came and did a poetry reading in Trinity Chapel some days previously and went down very well with the students. He is a great force for good.  I see that Trinity now has an iron gate integral to Great Gate so that people have to go in and out through the Porter's Lodge. Probably sensible but it seems a pity.

The murder in Woolwich is dreadful though it must be seen in proportion. So far this century there have been 54 people killed by terrorists in the UK (plus 4 suicide bombers) and although this is 54 too many it's still fewer than the number of people killed by insect stings.  There is certainly much that is disquieting about the way in which "Islamist" ideology is allowed to run riot in certain places.  But banning all forms of "fundamentalism" would be a grave infringement of civil liberties.  It could well become a criminal offence to argue against "gay marriage" and already we find strong pressure against Christian groups that uphold values which 20 years ago would have been near-universal. I worry that Twelfth Night will be banned from schools becauae it is "homophobic".

It may well be that new powers are needed but if so then perhaps some old powers should be given up. As a general principle 2 pages of legislation should be repealed for every one passed.  It was a step in the right direction when the House of Lords de-criminalised "insulting" language this year - which shamefully was criminalised under the Major government in 1994.

Meanwhile one salutes the admirable-sounding Ingrid Loyau-Kennett! Of course I don't agree with everything she says (why should I?) but she certainly deserves recognition and maybe some national role.

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