Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Socialist Unity attacks freedom of speech

The advent of the Internet and the development of the blog has led to the ability of anyone with a computer to sit down and put their views up for public consumption. This is of course a major step forward for freedom of speech and expression that we should all applaud.

One of the great things about blogs is the facility to talk, discuss and debate. Some blogs have a more or less open comments policy, some moderate to varying degrees and some censor. Some political groups (like the Socialist Workers Party, the Socialist Party and others) simply post on line and expect you to lap up their views. But then these groups don't actually believe in democracy so that's fine, but they never actually make that too obvious.

Earlier this month the Shiraz Socialist blog published a short comment by Paul Lavet. He wrote:

“I note that the Socialist Unity blog has just carried a piece denouncing Britain’s “blood soaked” role in Syria. Strangely enough, the article did not use a similar adjective to describe the Russian role. I pointed out this double standard in a comment which is currently “awaiting moderation”. It will be interesting to see whether it is printed.”

They then went on to publish a picture of a limited edition T-Shirt which you can find here:

One of their editors, a certain Mr Tony Collins, has developed a passion for deleting comments and posts he doesn't agree with. When I tried entering the fray over their current witch-hunt against feminist and secularist Anne Marie Waters I found just one of the three comments I tried posting allowed through the Socialist Unity censor, and that was just so he could slag me off out of context. That's politics I suppose, but a very unhealthy form.

In his frenzied assault he also attacked Harry's Place, an excellent blog which I support and work with as regular readers will be aware. I'm sure Sarah AB won't mind if I quote her after she attempted to respond to Mr Collins and was barred from doing so. She told me that:

It’s so frustrating that I actually feel I would be willing to have a sincere and open minded discussion about this – yet I’m banned.  

I always tried to be civil over on SU. What is the point of blogs and so on if you are not going to share ideas and even - just possibly - change your mind?  

Quite. However Mr Collins has a different idea about what free speech is. He just told someone that they are banned for a remark I have not seen so I cannot comment on that, but what caught my attention was the following added to his post in brackets. It makes for interesting reading:

(What is it with you right-wing people – your egos are so massive, you continue to try to post on here despite us making it clear that you are not welcome to; you all have a sense of entitlement, as if somehow you’re so important and you simply must be heard. Well, Harry’s Place has never turned away a right-wing racist, so please, all of you, go over there. They’re keen on what they call “freedom of speech”, which is a technical term for “giving the EDL left cover and spending 10 years doing all everything possible to undermine the left and increase racism”)

So now we know. Free speech is just about defending the EDL, I'm sure that will come as a surprise to all of you who exercise your rights by both writing and reading on this Internet thingy we all enjoy so much.

Whatever "Socialist Unity" is really about is debatable. Unless you are one of the select few that have views close enough to the SU Politburo you are "right-wing" and quite obviously providing cover for the EDL. What a ridiculous little man Mr Collins is.

I have tried challenging Andy Newman about this over at Left Futures who he managed to get to reproduce his absurd attack on Ms Waters. I wrote:

I find it laughable that the Marxists of SU criticise anyone for “militantly enforcing their views”. For the record I seek open and rational discussion to debate and persuade, something the censorship policy pursued by one of your co-editors in particular (and picked up on Urban 75 for the record) would suggest you seek to do otherwise.

Despite the fact Mr Newman always likes to have the last word he managed to avoid answering this point, so now we know Socialist Unity is against Free Speech except for themselves.


I tried to reply to Mr Collins shrill comment on Socialist Unity with the following but it was err..banned.

Good grief what is the matter with you. The comment in brackets is an appalling distortion of what free speech is all about. If that's how you seek to persuade people (and I really don't know how you define "right wing" except perhaps its anyone you don't agree with) then its' you that's damaging whatever the left is supposed to be though I'm not sure what your politics can be defined as.

Blogging is supposed to be about exchanging ideas freely, not ranting with extreme prejudice. You like to dish it out but can't take either criticism or frankly accept people don't actually think like you it would seem.

Andy tried to claim he was a "Social Democrat" over at Left Futures, though failed to answer my query about this sites blatant censorship policy. If you want to be a private club, that's fine but don't pretend to be something you are not.

Yeah I know. I'm banned.

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