Banned from Britain

May 5th, 2009

According to an AP report in The Washington Post, the British government has published a list of people banned from entering Britain.  Prominent on that list is American talk-radio host Michael Savage.  The Independent reported the names of all 16 people on the British list.  It includes extremists of both left and right.

The UK has the sovereign right to deny entry to anyone.  No question about that.  And any country that discriminates on the basis of ideas and speech would keep these people out, including Savage.  I’ve listened to his show, and he’s a bigoted idiot.  But what does this say about freedom of speech in the UK?  Does it mean that the British have given up on an essential element of democracy?  Or are they simply afraid of the violent responses of radical elements among their own people? 

Banning people because there’s a reasonable expectation that they’ll engage in violence or commit other crimes is one thing; banning them for what they think and say is another thing entirely, and it’s unacceptable in a democracy.

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19 Responses to “Banned from Britain”

  1. JenR |

    I’d also add Sean Hannity to the list. Reason: Douchebag.

  2. Brian |

    Granted, this story is about the UK, but JenR, you do understand that in this country, the 1st amendment exists to protect unpopular political speech, don’t you? What is the need or importance for protecting political speech with which everyone agrees?

    You are, of course, free to express your political opinions, no matter how misinformed about things you may be. Yet you would deny the same to Hannity and Savage? Every tyranny in history has silenced political dissidents one way or another (jail and execution being the two most common). Apparently, it’s a good thing you don’t have that sort of power.

  3. CuteEnglishGuy |

    I don’t agree with censorship in general but I do sometimes wonder if the world would be a better place if censorship was enforced. It’s one of those questions that can never really be answered.

  4. doris |

    I dare to say, I think JenR is joking, I agree he’s a radical conservative, but probably a nice guy. This country should never ban speech, but come on people, there’s a limit to what we want to see. Political dissidents are the basis of new and exciting ideas and the right to disagree must be part of a truly democratic society. What is happening to democracy??? We can’t allow that to happen here. No fun without disagreements and different ideas and opposing opinions. Reminds you of Hitler?

  5. geoff |

    I think it was refreshing to see Savage taken to task for being a douche, but by giving him this much “power”, identifying him as such a caustic consideration that he simply canNOT be allowed in the country? That makes a mountain out of a very small man, and needs to be reversed.

    A far funnier way to send the same message today would have been to announce the “Crazy Islamic”, “Hateful Shiny Heads” and “Irresponsible FatMouth” taxes, specifically given to nutbar Muslim extremists, Nazis in general, and hopeless right wing jaw-jackers, forcing them to pay 1,000,000 pounds or euros or whatever to victims of their hate before they can enter a country.

  6. Kevin |

    Sean Hannity, of course, being one of those who used his media platform to openly question the patriotism of those criticizing Dear Leader Dubya’s war in Iraq.

    He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty he establishes a precendent that will reach himself” – Thomas Paine.

    Which means of course that even though the pathetic excuse for a human being known as Sean Hannity doesn’t deserve to enjoy that which he would deny to others, freedom of speech is more important than him having to eat his just desserts. Ditto for the legions of self-described conservative bloggers who gleefully echoed Hannity.

  7. Tom |

    Yes, Hannity and others questioned the patriotism of those who were strongly opposed to the Iraq War. And yes, talkers on the left attack conservatives who disagree with them, and often in more vicious and defamatory language. I wonder if you’ve listed to as much Air America and seen as much MSNBC as I have….

    This is political discourse in the context of freedom of speech. Why does it bother you so much? Should only the left or right be allowed to express their opinions, and everyone else should just shut up?

    Freedom of speech doesn’t exist unless it protects the most objectionable speech you can imagine. Personally, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

    By the way, for those readers who may not know, “Dear Leader” used to be the term of address used by North Koreans for Kim Jong-il, their wackadoo dictator. They’re now calling him “Great Leader.” By using the term “Dear Leader Dubya,” the intention, apparently, is to equate George W. Bush with Kim Jong-il. That implies a rather profound lack of knowledge about one or both of them.

  8. Kevin |

    Actually, “dear leader” is a reference to his followers, many of whom now go to great pains to distance themselves from him and to question his bonefides as a “conservative.” All of which I find hysterically funny and rather pathetic at the same time.

    As for whether the speech of Hannity et al bothers me, I’ll simply refer you back to the quote in my previous comment. It’s there for a reason.

    And no, I don’t listen to Air America. That is by choice as they do have an affiliate here in my local market which my radio picks up just fine.

    But since you brought up Air America… Care to hazard a guess as to it’s listenership? If their finances are any indication it would seem that they’re not exactly popular among the left. Yet… what do we see on the right? Limbaugh, Savage, Hannity, et al… They’re doing pretty damn good, huh. Are you SURE you want to use the “Air America” defense? LOL – seems like leading with the chin to me…

  9. Tom |

    Come on, Kevin. Using the term “Dear Leader Dubya” in a critical political discussion implies only one thing, unless you’re a lot less politically tuned-in than I’m sure you are. When someone like Ann Coulter refers to the President as “B. Hussein Obama,” there’s not doubt what she means, and she wouldn’t be allowed to duck the clear implication.

    Hannity doesn’t advocate denying free speech to anyone, as far as I know. He just refers to some folks as unpatriotic idiots, or words to that effect. Left-wing talkers use terms at least as strong about conservatives. So what? Are those on the left so fragile? Anyone who can’t abide the give-and-take of politics should stay safely at home and watch South Park re-runs.

  10. Larry |

    Dear Kevin
    Your efforts to come off as impartial are lost when you “Foam” at the mouth. A sure sign of the pistus offus liberalus syndrome. As I watch the Obama reign unfold I am really starting to question just what you folks really want. Looks more like a replay of the Third Reich than anything else, complete with thugs and arm busters to enforce the wishes of the neoLibs. Maybe we can send Bush, Cheney and the rest into exile or worse. That way Al Gore and the dangling Chads would finally be avenged.

  11. Tom |

    Larry, why do you think of Obama’s presidency as a “reign?” Kings and queens reign, and you can’t get rid of them until they die—of natural or other causes. Or, maybe you could use the term for dictators like Putin, Chavez, and Castro. Same idea. At least with our presidents, no matter how much you dislike what they do, they’re gone in four to eight years, and we have control over the point at which they depart. The power of even the most powerful and aggressive president is severely limited by the fact that he has to be re-elected after four years and has to try to protect his party’s interest after eight. Pretty cool, huh?

    Personally, I can’t abide any comparison of American politics or politicians to the Third Reich or Adolf Hitler. Look at the Nazi era closely, and please tell me which periods of time or politicians in American history even remotely compare.

    Words have meaning, and the power of an argument is diminished by invalid comparisons and name-calling.

  12. Kevin |

    Actually, Tom, there are some valid comparisons. For example:

    “Naturally, the common people don’t want war, but they can always be brought to the bidding of their leaders. Tell them they are being attacked, denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and endangering the country. It works the same in every country.”
    — Herman Goering
    Hitler’s Reichsmarschall

  13. Tom |

    To quote the great Ronaldus Maximus, “There you go again!”

    That Goering quote has always interested me. Couldn’t it be applied to virtually any country whose leadership felt that entry into a war was necessary? The population has to be motivated and mobilized, and that’s a function of leadership at all levels. Think about WWII, even with the attack on Pearl Harbor. Did that mean we had to join the war in Europe, or even pursue a war with Japan at the level we did? In the last century, isn’t that what Wilson, Roosevelt, Eisenhower, and Johnson all did? So was Goering speaking purely as a Nazi, or was he being a political philosopher a la Machiavelli?

    No rational person wants a war, even though to some fall the task of being prepared to wage it. Farmers and generals alike would just as soon not do it, for the most part. It’s the task of leaders sometimes to convince people to do things that are inherently contrary to their best interests (making sacrifices, risking death, etc).

  14. doris |

    Actually, Kevin, I agree, more like Bush’s way of running things. He made them think 911 was the responsibility of Iraq, and so, scared them into a war any reasonable person could see through. Come on, as one against the whole thing from the beginning, why can’t people see through all the lies? Ask most people what this war was for and they’ll say revenge for 911. How stupid can folks be???? We follow blindly behind Presidents or dear leaders, supposed facts and proof and go to war to avenge their own agenda. It is comparable, but not Obama, Bush, so far.

  15. Kevin |

    What’s interesting about that Reagan quote is that he used it as a rhetorical tactic to make something seem unfounded without actually challenging it’s premise. IOW, it is a rhetorical version of the classic shell game – the point of which is, of course, to deceive.

    Couldn’t it be applied to virtually any country whose leadership felt that entry into a war was necessary?

    Is the United States of America just any country?

    Seems to me that Lincoln was pretty clear when he summed up the premise and point of this country existing with his “government of the people, for the people and by the people” argument.

    Where in there do you find legitimate room for “denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and endangering the country”?

  16. Tom |

    I guess we could look for it the same place where it says it’s OK to denounce the conservatives as Nazis, reich-wingers, fascists, murderers, religious zealots, and so on. In other words, it isn’t there on either side. Reasonable people ought to be able to discuss differences of opinion without ad hominem nonsense.

  17. Kevin |

    Prior to 2003 I used to think there were reasonable people on the other side. Actually, I viewed myself as solidly in the middle and not part of either side, although I’d voted for many more Republicans than Democrats my entire adult life up to that point. Dear Leader and his jack-booted followers convinced me otherwise while simultaneously convincing me that liberals aren’t half the crackpots I’d thought they were. Funny how being called a socialist traitor can have that effect.

    To quote Natalie Maines, I’m not ready to make nice.

    Turns out that the moderate liberals are the sane ones most of the time. And I’d give a shout-out to all the conservatives who convinced me of that but the list is far, far too long. Suffice to say that Hannity would get mentioned somewhere in the first hour or so.

  18. Larry |

    Never forget to take my proclamations with a grain of salt in the arena of person to person political differences. As the old saying goes, some of my best friends are liberals.
    Tom, your belief in the American way and the rule of law is commendable but is it shared by those in power? I don’t know your age but when in memory have you seen an administration that behaved as this one has? I don’t feel that it’s to far fetched to see an attempt to keep this president in office beyond the legal two term limit. The liberal democratic agenda to expand and enlarge big government has always been hampered by the time limits placed on them. Does anyone reading this really think that either Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reid wouldn’t jump at the chance to see Obama in office until?????
    Comparing this new administration to the Third Reich is far fetched, Oh really?? Government control of the banking and financial institutions, national health care, revamping of industry to government control and the intent to form a national security force not unlike the Gestapo but called maybe ACORN.
    And of course we have to remember the propaganda game. Has anyone noticed the amount of television air time devoted to this administration? George Orwell came very close to describing whats happening in his novel titled 1984.

  19. John Q |

    Maybe the Brits have got the right idea. Just keep all the rabble rousers out. Free speech is for their own people in their country, just like it is in the US. Nobody has a “right” to enter any country, specially if they are going to make trouble. And as far as Savage is concerned, I wish they would let him in, then we could refuse to let him come back. What a jerk!

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