Donald Trump and freedom of speech: he's no champion
Donald Trump recently was the subject of a debate in the British Parliament as to whether he should be banned for his so-called hate speech against Muslims. Here are some of the things that were said about him by the M.P.s:
Most of the 50 MPs present in Parliament attacked Trump for his views on Muslims, women, disabled people, global warming and other issues in the three-hour discussion but the majority of parliamentarians from both left and right dismissed the idea of banning the millionaire. Alex Chalk, a Conservative MP, said: "This is about bufoonery. And buffoonery must not be met with the blunt instrument of a ban. It must be met with the classic British response of ridicule".
Tulip Siddiq, Labour MP for Hampstead and Kilburn, joined the calls for him to be banned, saying people had felt "we need to stop a poisonous, corrosive man from entering the country".
Hate crime is being inflamed and stoked by the words that Donald Trump is using. I draw the line of freedom of speech when it actually invites violent ideology which is what I feel is happening," she said.
No doubt Trump would champion his right to freedom of speech – and correctly so, I might add. In the end, the British Parliament voted not to ban him, using this sort of reasoning:
Paul Scully, a member of the Conservative Party, agreed. After noting examples of people legitimately denied access into the country for offenses like "incitement" and fomenting "hatred," he offered, "I've never heard of one for stupidity" — a remark that drew laughter from others present....
Other MPs called Trump a demagogue and a fool, but the majority rejected the idea of censoring him by forbidding him entry into the country.
One of the main reasons, although not the only reason, for the proposed ban was Trump's statement that Muslims should not be allowed to enter the U.S. The British seem to have decided for now that it's not worth a ban, but that Trump is a proper subject for ridicule instead.
But the fact that Parliament debated the issue of Trump’s “hate speech” against Muslims was actually somewhat ironic, because Trump himself has not always defended the rights of others to free speech on that very topic. Remember back when Donald Trump was saying the following about Pam Geller, in response to the ISIS-inspired attack on her free speech get-together in Garland, Texas – the attempt that ended with the perpetrators being shot dead by armed guards?
The U.S. has enough problems without publicity seekers going out and openly mocking religion in order to provoke attacks and death. BE SMART
Here's a video with a few more choice words from Trump on the subject:
And here are some further quotes from Trump. Note especially the first one:
This has nothing to do with free speech – this is taunting, and all it does is cause trouble.”
“She should be much more responsible because what she’s doing is completely irresponsible!”
“She’s a person that is doing this for her own purpose and she’s doing a terrible thing for our country!“
“…if she went after, instead, JESUS, instead of the Muslim, went after JESUS, let’s see how long she’d last! If she went after the African-Americans, and went after the N-WORD, where she was positive on it as opposed to… let’s SEE how long she would last! That would also be freedom of speech! Let’s see if she has the guts to do that. …
All she’s doing, she is a provacateur! All she doing is provoking and taunting people!!”
I find it surprising that this is the man who is thought of by many of his supporters as a warrior for non-P.C. speech and thought. But he has not demonstrated such a tendency – au contraire – except as it involves his own speech.
In contrast, what did Ted Cruz have to say on the subject of the attack in Garland? This sort of thing:
“We saw the ugly face of radical Islam in Garland, Texas, recently,” Cruz said of last Sunday’s shooting at a “Draw Muhammad” event there.
“Thankfully, one police officer helped those terrorists meet their virgins,” he quipped.
...Cruz, a 2016 GOP presidential candidate, argued Saturday that the pair and others like them were emboldened by President Obama’s softness on Islamic fanaticism.
“We can’t win a war against radical Islamic terrorism with a president who won’t utter the words ‘radical Islamic terrorism,’ ” he said....
Cruz vowed that if he were elected, he would unabashedly protect freedom of speech and other liberties.
Quite different, isn't it? Cruz used the occasion to criticize Obama's policy on radical Islam, but it turns out that even Obama had a better reaction than Trump. Here's Josh Earnest, speaking for the president:
Q Is it time for individuals or groups or even publications to stop depicting the Prophet Muhammad in cartoons or any other types of drawings?
Mr. Earnest: Well, that’s obviously a judgment that we leave up to individual media organizations. The principle that I restated yesterday is one that applies, which is, that there is no expression, however offensive, that justifies an act of terrorism or even an act of violence. And that apparently is what these two individuals in Texas were trying to do. They were responding to one form of expression that they found offensive, and tried to use that as justification to carry out an act of terror.
And that is something that the President has repeatedly and consistently condemned. And this is a firm principle that we’re going to protect when it comes to the freedom of expression, and freedom of press, and freedom of speech.
Trump's anti-free speech comments about Geller weren't made years ago, either. This happened in May of 2015. However, it appears that, for many people, the incident has rapidly gone down the memory hole.
Neo-neocon is a former liberal who specializes in the process of political change. She blogs on that and many other matters at neoneocon.com.