A Dangerous Silence Has Imprisoned Our Freedom Of Speech

Kevin Myers with a piece on the threat to free speech posed by the failure of institutions of learning like Trinity College Dublin to exercise their duty of intellectual care. The piece has added relevance in the wake of Queen's University Belfast decision to refrain from staging a conference on Charlie Hebdo. It first featured in the Sunday Times 0n 29 March 2015. Features from elsewhere are published on TPQ with permission.  

A terrible blow against freedom has been struck by Trinity College Dublin. If you didn’t know this, that’s probably because the primary organs whose duty it is to defend this freedom — our media, universities, political classes and the National Union of Journalists — have largely stayed silent, which is perhaps the most sinister aspect of the entire affair.

Last Monday, Maryam Namazie, a critic of Islam’s homicidal outlawing of apostasy, was prevented from addressing a meeting of Trinity’s Society for International Affairs (Sofia) unless a moderator was present to ensure that “balance” was achieved to avoid antagonising Muslim students. In her blog, Namazie says:

Though [it has been asserted] that I withdrew from the event, it is in fact the society which cancelled [it] after my request that it go ahead as initially planned without any of the last-minute restrictions imposed.

Such immoderate moderation is extremely unusual. Does Trinity insist that meetings of its Feminist Society have some ecumenical presence to ensure that the girls are fair to John Waters? Are gatherings of its LGBT society policed to ensure respect for His Grace, the Archbishop of Dublin? Does the Sharon Tate Fan Club as a matter of principle reserve a kind word for Charles Manson, in the interest of balance? 

What? I’m being absurd? Of course I am — for was not the fundamentalist Islamist sheik Kamal El Mekki recently allowed to address the Muslim students of TCD on why it is lawful to kill apostates from Islam, and without any moderator present?

Trinity’s disgraceful capitulation to Islamist sensibilities was then compounded by a thunderous silence from media commentators generally, with the exception of my friend Ian O’Doherty. His broadside in last Tuesday’s Irish Independent would, I assumed, be the trigger for the more fainthearted to enter the fray on the side of freedom. (You can read it online: I urge you to do so.) Yet there was no follow-up, no interviews on RTE or the independent radio stations. In other words, abject media capitulation through that most contemptible but invisible of white flags: namely, prudent but studious neglect. 

A new benchmark in timidity appears to have been set. Whenever people wish to criticise Islamic laws on the Trinity campus, they must do so with a moderator present, a varsity version of the old Hays code in Hollywood that supposedly required a married couple on a bed to have one foot on the floor. Freedom of speech has been trumped by the possibility of wounded feelings among Muslims.

In Paris, they silence people they dislike with Kalashnikovs. In Trinity, it is with the imposition of a moderator. No doubt Trinity folk were a few weeks ago gallantly sporting badges declaring: “Je suis Charlie.” Non, vous ĂȘtes des branleurs. This is not just any campus, but the home of Edmund Burke, the greatest political philosopher Ireland has ever produced, who once mused: “There is a limit at which forbearance ceases to be a virtue.”

This tawdry affair is merely part of a huge cultural shift in English-speaking lands whereby the Roundhead dogmas of political correctness are enforced by the organisations to which they should be anathema: the media and the universities. In all of the recent brouhaha about Jeremy Clarkson, little attention has been paid to why he was on a last warning from the BBC. It was because he had, while rehearsing for Top Gear, half-audibly mouthed the N-word while reciting the nursery rhyme Eeny Meeny Miny Mo.

Yet this word is a conversational commonplace between African-Americans, and is perfectly acceptable for a black man to use in public. But for a white man to say it even in private is almost tantamount to career death. Rather than the media denouncing such race-based linguistic apartheid, there was either a cowed silence or tacit assent.

A comparable public ruin to Clarkson’s was visited on Carol Thatcher some years earlier. A woman is not usually destroyed on the grounds of political correctness but, because of her mother, Thatcher was clearly regarded as an honorary man, though not of the LGBT variety, which of course made her fair game for the PC lynch mob. In the privacy of the green room in the BBC, she said that a particular tennis player looked like a golliwog. Her words were reported by a presenter to the BBC authorities and she was told to apologise. Not having done so “sufficiently”, she was sacked, thereby ending her television career.

It’s not the conduct of the television executives that is so frightening, for what else do you expect apart from spinelessness, so much as the compliance of the media and academia. For in this brave new world, core duties are not merely abandoned but subverted: the gamekeeper pricks the pheasant eggs and gaffs the spawning salmon; the sentry hauls the invader up the castle walls. 

This dysfunctionality has encouraged the emergence of a pyramid of permanent victimhood, the querulous apex of which is occupied by Muslims, with, beneath them, women, homosexuals, blacks, travellers. Entirely absent are middle-class, male heterosexuals, of whom almost anything can be said. I recently gave up a Saturday evening to appear in a charity fundraiser an hour’s drive away from home, for no possible personal gain. The woman MC, a writer, introduced the various guests, including herself, with complimentary explanations. She finished: “And the last person will need no introduction: it’s that right-wing nutcase Kevin Myers.”

For the PC moral universe rigorously excludes people such as myself, Waters and O’Doherty from the usual good manners that govern most public discourse. There is almost an obligation to insult us. No one would ever be denounced by universities, politicians or that contemptible thing, the NUJ, for describing us in language that would be described as racist, xenophobic, sexist or homophobic if uttered about anyone else. 

This illness is not confined to Ireland, but is now the New Orthodoxy in Britain. Bizarrely widespread within this illogical, semi-hysterical disorder is a chic anti-semitism. Left-liberal Jew-baiting is now made respectable by calling the target group Israelis. Even though Israel is the only state in the Middle East to guard constitutionally the rights of those in the classic victim pyramid: Muslims, gays, women and blacks.

When political correctness first arrived from America a quarter of a century ago, it seemed like a pathetic, doomed fallacy intended for sanctimonious cowards, pious bullies and the irredeemably brainless. But it has now metastasised into the cultural nodes of our society: the media, political and academic classes and our state-subsidised quangos. These now routinely license ad hominem abuse of critics or, if need be, moderate into silence the awkward and inconvenient.

A cultural cancer is eating into the bone marrow of our freedom and, as with all such tumours, it has recruited to its cause the very media antibodies that were originally invented to protect that freedom.


  1. An Irish blogger has been threatened with court over Elton Johns super injunction...

    I read about the story and who was involved a few days after it broke.. (wasn't difficult) Anyone in Scotland can read the sordid details..Yet south of the border in England and Wales they can't... Proves to me that the law is an ass at the best of times..

  2. this particular strain of virus - kevinus myarseicus - is a very dangerous type and is virtually antibody-proof. it is completely blind to its own mind boggling hypocrisy and over his excedingly long life time (compared to other viruses) actively supports the mass murder of millions of innocents. there is no known cure for this particular type of neurotic dysfunctional overpaid military industrial complex corporate mouthpiece virus, although we havent tried censoring him yet. all i can say about elton john Frankie is God help the children of this 'couple'. glad i voted no. hope ur well over there in paris.