The new security laws brought in by the Chinese government to control Hong Kong correctly brought condemnation from the British Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, and the Chancellor of Oxford University, Lord Patten (who negotiated the rights of Hong Kong citizens after the end of the British rule in the 1990s).
As reported on the BBC:-
‘Mr Raab says the security law is a "flagrant assault" on freedoms of speech and protest in Hong Kong. He tells MPs it also risks undermining the independence of Hong Kong's judicial system.’
Patten told the BBC directly:
“You can lock up people, you can’t lock up ideas," he added. "I still believe that the belief in freedom and the rule of law is going to have a longer lifespan than Xi Jinping’s extremely unpleasant, dictatorial, totalitarian communism.”
Without doubting their sincerity I fear modern Britain is also busy dismantling people’s right to free speech. The British government have been seeking means to harass people with dissident opinions about vaccination on the web, first announced by Boris Johnson last August and with additional talk of criminal prosecution touted by a newly appointed law commissioner speaking to the press in February. We have also have the disquieting example of Oxford University’s Internet Institute trying to decide what people may or may not talk about on the web, which is of course where free speech takes place in the modern world.
I am also afraid that when it comes to the courts the British citizen will not get a fair hearing on vaccination from judges who long ago deferred to the government bureaucracy, while any doctor who contradicted the status quo would get referred to the General Medical Council. Let there be no misunderstanding that even evidence about vaccine harm which would be perfectly acceptable within the US system is persecuted in the British courts. Meanwhile, the British government’s position on vaccine safety is based on humbug, lies, propaganda and a complete lack of scientific substance.
Of course, even free speech should have its limits: it is not alright to make things up, to slander people or groups, or incite violence but of course this is not what this is about. This is about silencing opinion where the state is on its weakest ground: it is the very essence of intellectual repression. People do not argue about this because they want harm to come to children or because they are ignorant or suspicious of science, they argue about it because every time harm does come to children they are abused, lied about or ignored. We may get censorious about China but as things stand the superior pose does not come particularly well from either the British government or Oxford University.
John Stone is UK Editor for Age of Autism.