Thursday 27 October 2016

The greater the truth, the greater the libel: European report says British politicians failed to control the press


The European Commission Against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), part of the Council of Europe, has issued a report criticising the British media for using 

offensive, discriminatory and provocative terminology
and blamed it for a supposed rise in racist and xenophobic attacks (in fact there wasn't one) after the Brexit vote.

It cited Katie Hopkins’ article in The Sun, where she likened refugees to “cockroaches” with the headline: 

Rescue boats? I’d use gunships to stop migrants.
The report urged the press to “take stock of the importance of responsible reporting, not only to avoid perpetuating prejudice and biased information, but also to avoid harm to targeted persons or vulnerable groups”. It specifically mentioned that the fuelling of prejudice against Muslims “showed a reckless disregard… for their safety” and complained that politicians have failed to control the press'
Have failed to control the press...
Political control of the press in England lapsed in the reign of King William III but is likely to make a comeback unless we are very lucky. Human rights are the enemy of freedom of speech, as of many other freedoms.

In response to the report the British Government said it was

committed to a free and open press and does not interfere with what the press does and does not publish, as long as the press abides by the law.
Well said, except that laws have been enacted starting in 1965 to restrict what can be said about the most important issues in politics and life, religion, sex and race and David Cameron threatened the press with more regulation if they did not comply with voluntary guidelines.

The report got little coverage in the British press, even in The Guardian, except in this robust piece in the Express.


The report also criticised politicians like David Cameron and Nigel Farage for language which
contributed needlessly to an increase in xenophobic sentiment
such as the words “invasions” and “floods” and “benefits tourism”, as a 2013 study (pdf) had found no evidence that EU migration was benefit-related. Cameron was criticised for calling refugees and migrants a “swarm” and Farage for saying “there is rising public concern about immigration partly because people believe there are some Muslims who want to form a fifth column and kill us”.

It reminds me of the old eighteenth century legal maxim (when criminal libel existed): the greater the truth, the greater the libel.

Anti-migration points of view must be aired. It's vital.

The UK should leave the European Convention on Human Rights, as Mrs May wanted to do until June - she suddenly changed her mind after the referendum. Perhaps the Council of Europe too, though it does no great harm except for (poison) gassing. 

On the continent there is no real tradition of freedom. I think of human rights as freedoms - meaning freedom from the state and the police - but the Europeans think of entitlements, occasions where the state ought to intervene.

'Human rights' doesn't mean freedoms, like free speech. It means a statist liberal/left wing ideology imposed by law. It is nowadays the ruling ideology of the European Union. It's very different from the Cold War when the West stood for freedom and democracy and that was it.

See 'human rights' as an ideology - then you understand what is going on. An ideology which is becoming a sort of secular post-Christian religion. 


  1. "Benefits tourism"? I think I am about to go berserk (this is nearly as severe as "cleaning woman" in "gentlemen don't wear plaid"). Paul, could you not include in your masthead a warning that your blog abounds with micro aggressions? Thanks

  2. My opinion was that La Hopkins was spot on in her famous cockroaches article and I said so here, in Taki's Magazine.

  3. Very true. Sir Roger Scruton has also made the point about the difference between "negative" rights - as in freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention, etc, and "positive" rights - the right to employment, freedom from discrimination, etc. The former arise from the accumulated wisdom of hundreds of years of British common law and tradition, while the latter are relatively recent, political, and invite coercion by the State; as some form of overarching authority is required to ensure that the implied 'equality' contained in these 'rights' is enforced.

  4. Europe has never had a real tradition of (legally) protecting free speech. OK, during Voltaire's time, England was better off than France in this regard, but all in all, the US is the only place in the world with a strong regard for unbridled free speech, both historically and currently.

    1. We had free speech till the Race Relations Act 1965 created the offence of "incitement to racial hatred." The BBC recently broadcast a documentary by a former Labour MP about how inadequate that act was. The Offensive Behaviour Act 1985 passed by Mrs Thatcher's government made things worse. Then under Mr Blair the deluge.


  6. "Have failed to control the press..." - indeed. Terrifying.

    I would not, however, take the implicit subject of that sentence to be 'the government'. The quaint notion of dialog offers a stricter limit: one logos butts another. I take that the wonderfully democratic 'block' function on the still clumsy novelty media counts toward that classical function of dia-logos... Inasmuch, I rather enjoy this form of writing: @Twitter all but functions as speech, slightly written.

    Sure enough, the function of political faiths - to force choice between incompatible categories - does work. However, it is also seen to be done that much better ! Reaction corrodes political categories, methinks. I trust it to. Fingers crossed.

    Digressing, as usual