I was surprised and flattered to be nominated (albeit by two people) to speak at the Blogger’s Summit segment of the Convention on Modern Liberty. I won’t put myself forward, though: I haven’t done any public speaking for some time, and I was never particularly good at it, but much more importantly I’m not sure what I could bring to the table.
Also, if my speech was anything like my blog, attendees would probably have to put up with listening to a ramble with little if any structure that leads to no particular conclusion.
Regardless, it would be nice if attendees agreed on a couple of items prior to the Convention.
First, that our freedoms and rights are under sustained assault. This seems uncontroversial, given the subject of the Convention. The extent and motives are arguable but the fundamentals are surely not. OK, that one seems easy.
Second, and apparently more controversially, that our fundamental freedoms and rights should be enjoyed by those whom we find objectionable, not merely those we support or are indifferent to.
But there have already been aspersions cast on the Convention because of the involvement of the Countryside Alliance, and today David Semple wonders why even the Conservatives should be “allowed” to participate.
And, just in the past week, we have had supposed champions of our freedoms and rights failing to stand up for objectionable characters such as Geert Wilders.
If you cannot bring yourself to do this on the grounds of principle then perhaps pragmatism will suffice.
Pastor Niemöller famously wrote:
In Germany, they came first for the Communists, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist;
And then they came for the trade unionists, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist;
And then they came for the Jews, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew;
And then . . . they came for me . . . And by that time there was no one left to speak up.”
Or take The People vs. Larry Flynt when Flynt says, “If the First Amendment will protect a scumbag like me, it will protect all of you”.
We have to ‘guarantee’ freedoms and rights for objectionable characters otherwise one day you or I might be accused of being an objectionable character and find ourselves on the end of a liberty infringing power.
Let us agree that fundamental freedoms and rights are for all and on the day we can discuss how to defend them.
Or as Lee Griffin succinctly put it,
It’s a coalition, time to start realising that the issues at hand are ones we all share, even if we don’t agree with the rest of their stances. Stop this partisan bollocks, concentrate on the civil liberties, help make a mass movement, then argue later over other beliefs.