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What is it about Free Speech?

January 23, 2013

I’ve been a fan of magician Paul Daniels for many years. I’ve even met him a couple of times and found both him and his wife some of the most approachable stars I’ve ever met.

Back in December, he blogged (great blog, worth reading) about how fans behaved in the 1970s and on the whole abuse scandal. As always, he was forthright, honest, open and spoke from personal experiences.

As is increasingly the case now, he was instantly savaged by a section of the press, and felt that he had to remove the posting.

I found that worrying. It crystallised something that had been bugging me for a long time about our freedom of speech. I’m not talking about the right to racially abuse someone on Facebook or reveal who has or has not been required to talk to police on a delicate matter.

I mean the right we should have to add to a debate by putting a view that doesn’t conform to what the most vocal section of the “media” have decided it should be.

Just as a simple example, for example, what Theatremonkey.com started doing some 12 years ago was seen once as “not how things should be done.” For years I kept going without assistance, until suddenly there was enough support for my view to be acceptable.

If we trample on the right of those who actually do know something (as Mr Daniels did about the 1970s, because he was building his career then and remembers), to say what they know and give a valid interpretation, we can’t grow as a society. Without intellectual growth as a society, learning from history from those who were there, there’s no progress. Well, that’s what I think, anyway.

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