Douglas Murray: Free Speech Under Assault, Litigation by Islamists, Liberal Apologists
Two days after the Brussels bombings on March 22, a man who had tweeted something deemed offensive to Muslims was arrested in Britain, the associate director of a conservative UK think tank recounted on Thursday, by way of introducing a talk he delivered in New York titled: “The War on Free Speech.”
Douglas Murray, vice president of the Henry Jackson Society, described the incident while addressing the Gatestone Institute, a think tank specializing in strategy and defense.
Murray — journalist, commentator and author of Neoconservatism: Why We Need It (2005) and Bloody Sunday: Truths, Lies and the Saville Inquiry (2011) — first quoted the tweet in question (“I confronted a Muslim woman. She said ‘[the Brussels attack] had nothing to do with me.’ A mealy-mouthed reply”). He then called the fact that “the very next day, policemen were knocking on the door” of its author, Matthew P. Doyle from Croydon, “emblematic” of what is going on in the West today.
“That tweet may be bad manners, but it shouldn’t be illegal,” Murray said. “Particularly when one considers the kind of language and rhetoric commonly used on social media.”
This story, however, he said, “indicates that even manners are increasingly becoming the realm of law.” Yet not in a uniform way, he claimed, pointing to the indifferent response on the part of law enforcers in relation to a WhatsApp message sent out by the imam of the Glasgow Central Mosque in praise of Mumtaz Qadri, who was hanged in Pakistan in February for murdering a politician who opposed blasphemy laws. (Qadri shot his employer, Punjab Governor Salman Taseer, 28 times.)
Murray also highlighted what he called a “very significant conversation” – caught by a “hot mic” — between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. The exchange, which took place in September, involved Merkel’s complaint about anti-immigration comments on social media – a phenomenon the pro-immigration European leader wished to eradicate. Asking Zuckerberg what he could or would do to stop users from expressing those opinions, Zuckerberg answered: “We’re working on it.”
This underscored his general point that the liberal Left, which touts free speech, and the Islamists who wish to control the narrative in their favor, are attempting to stifle any and all discourse that involves criticism, let alone opposition, to a fixed set of ideas.
During the question period following Murray’s lecture, world-renowned legal scholar and human-rights promoter Alan Dershowitz – a member of Gatestone’s Board of Governors — asked to elaborate by raising the issue of double standards.
“I don’t think we’re seeing free speech endangered,” Dershowitz said. “It is ‘free speech for me and not for thee’ that is occurring.”