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My biggest criticism of the ECHR is that it has failed so utterly to uphold this most basic of freedom. There's a reason it's the second thing mentioned in the US Bill of Rights.

I am increasingly sickened and frightened by some of the recent arrests of people who have done nothing more than utter an unkind word. The 'gay' police horse being a good example. The government should put the issue of free speech as a more central plank, because I think 'the people' react similarly to these outrages.

But then free speech is just one part of the more Libertarian approach to the world - do what you want as long as you visit no harm on others.


"Homosexual desire is morally just like heterosexual desire, except that the object is of the same sex as the subject"

"All cultures are equal, and none has a special claim to legal or political precedence"

Morality is not innate and probably arises from cognitive architecture that rewarded co operation in th ancestral environment. It has no objective correlate and it is only invoked to maintain or pursue social norms. The first statement is therefore absurd and it makes the author look as if he thinks homosexuality is immorla. That is a social norm in Iran but not here.

As for all cutlures are equal, there is no reason why one should be seen as objectively better than another. This is once again a value judgement and to treat it as true is to surrender to emotionalism.

David Belchamber

If you are a believer, then "All men (and women) are equal in the sight of God" but if you are a secularist, then "All men (and women) are equal in the sight of the law".

Where the two are in conflict, as with gay marriage, whilst the secularist view should hold sway in public life, it would be quite wrong to force a Muslim or a Catholic actively to 'promote' the secularist view, though they should acknowledge what the law states. A Catholic priest should be able to opt out of performing such a ceremony unless and until the Catholic religion encompasses gay marriage.

Where Leveson and the freedom of the press are concerned, the French have a useful aphorism 'Liberté sans licence'. Existing laws should be adequate to deal with the sort of abuses that have been reported recently; all that is needed is for the law to be implemented.

The one exception perhaps is that there is a need for some effective sanctions to be applied against the press on cases where 'little people' are publicly defamed, since the current laws on libel and slander can only be invoked by those with very deep pockets.


Good article, clear and to the point. One of the main reasons I am against the EU ,and its dreadful freedom destroying court, is because the freedoms encouraged by Christianity ( all are equal under God ), articulated by the Enlightenment, put into use by the American Constitution and then reflected in our own gradualist way here in the UK, is because it imposes false freedoms, a freedom imposed from above, and whose boundaries are set by a vague law containing, amongst other things, the three axioms rehearsed above in the article. These ECHR laws tell you what to think and how to think, it is not freedom at all, just state organized discourse, within their parameters. It will extinguish all true free thinking and suppress the Judaeo-Christian tradition, which ultimately, at cultural depth, is what our western society owes a great debt to, and is based upon. It will be a dead hand slowly throttling our culture. I want us to get away from this dreadful court, which started well, but the experiment has failed.


Excellent piece. It touches on the question as to whether democracy guarantees freedom. Freedom must be the far more important goal, and freedoms of speech, conscience, association and religion are the freedoms that surely define a free nation, but which are being undermined by the State-imposed orthodoxies Mr Scruton mentions. Tyrannical systems can stage elections where the candidates are all members of the Party. Also, in 'freer' nations, the choice between different parties can only offer a choice that has differences at the edges, but where the main parties offer the same basic direction - e.g. on curtailing the basic freedoms, such as freedom of speech. The current example is Mr Cameron's plan for the State to impose a new definition of marriage, which legal opinion says will lead to those, e.g. teachers, who hold the always accepted and known definition being disciplined/sacked from employment.

One problem is that Mr Cameron's so-called "Conservative" party has capitulated to the "social order (that) has been built on leftist doctrines" so is carrying on the Left's work of curtailing freedom.


When some of the great advocates of freedom of speech in previous centuries, including JSM, were writing, some of the things they wanted to change were suppression of the printing of seditious material, the banning of certain books, arrests on accusations of merely holding certain opinions, breaking up and arresting members of public meetings on certain subjects.

Skip forward to 2012. While we've got some undeniable small areas where freedom of speech has been under some retreat (the liberal laws seem the best example to my mind, for example BCA v. Singh), the idea that the three "orthodoxies" you mention are protected from criticism by curtailing of free speech is ridiculous. Which books have been banned? Who has been arrested for their opposition?

You say they have been "enshrined in law" as orthodoxies. Which presumably means we have a great many issues on which we have ended freedom of speech, as we have a great many laws. When Thatcher "enshrined" strike laws, was she therefore curtailing the freedom of speech of pro-strike union members? Of course not. Freedom of speech means that coercion, particularly the powerful coercion of which the state is capable of, shall not be used to prevent differing points of view on a subject being heard, and debate taking place. But, assuming the debate doesn't quickly wrap up with the entire country agreeing, at some point decisions need to be made, at which point generally in a democracy the idea is that the majority view gets its way. As long as the minority opposition is not then prevented from voicing opposition to the new decision, there is no question that freedom of speech has been prevented, and no question that the minority opposition are no bound to obey any new laws passed in their actions, though not to alter their views.

For some reason, those on the losing side in some recent issues have decided that freedom of speech actually means they should get to not only voice their opposition and protest against change, but to be exempt from any laws passed because of their beliefs. We don't let those who think shoplifting should be legal do so.


I forgot also to mention your odd point about Tonio Borg. Indeed, how dare any organisation campaign against someone being appointed to a political position because of their political views? Certainly when they are of so little relevance to the position in question, such as Mr Borg's views on abortion to his sought position for health. The ECH almost seem to be acting as if we lived in a society of active political competition, where politicians made their views clearly known, and the citizens of the polity made voted and campaigned to whatever degree they chose, to influence the representatives put into public office so as to reflect their own views.

Robert (DMML)

Congratulations on a well written thought provoking piece.
"All cultures are equal, and none has a special claim to legal or political precedence All three of those orthodoxies are being enshrined in the laws handed down by the European Commission and the European Courts".
This is the Left gone mad with its moral relativism.
All cultures are not equal as made apparent with the difficulties experience with multiculturalism.
And as for the equality of free speech, a read of Salman Rushdie's 'A Memoir' An account of the Fatwa, will soon put paid to the notion of all cultures being equal. In fact they are very unequal.
Free speech is to be protected and not undermined by those that believe they command the moral high ground and known as The Great and The Good.

Andrew Dodge

"Homosexual desire is morally just like heterosexual desire, except that the object is of the same sex as the subject"

What exactly is wrong with this statement? Between consenting adults homosexual desire is as moral as heterosexual desire. It is not the job of the state to dictate with whom one can have sex if it is between consenting adults.


The only freedom we have in this country is to put a X in a box - afterwards all the politicians do is create and legislate more and more laws to justify their own jobs. I am fed up being told what to think and say.


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