License to Libel – by Deborah Weiss


Savage

In his recently released book Banned in Britain, Michael Savage, an American conservative talk show host, reveals the sordid details that caused the British Labor Party government to ban him from the UK.  In context, the ban constitutes part of a larger effort to restrict free speech in the West.

One morning in May 2009, Michael Savage awoke and googled the news.  There in bold headlines he read that he was forbidden to enter the UK, due to his “extremist views.”  At first he thought it was a joke.  But upon linking to the British Home Office website, he discovered its truth.  A “name and shame” list had been posted of those prohibited from entering the country.  The list included terrorists, murderers and Michael Savage.

The talk show host never committed a crime.  He never applied to enter the UK, nor was his show broadcast there.  The British government never warned him that he was engaging in problematic behavior, nor did it notify him after placing him on the list.  He was not afforded due process or any process.  Rather, the decision to ban Michael Savage was made by government authorities with no oversight, behind closed doors.  They side-stepped laws and trampled on his civil liberties.

Banned in Britain explains how, through the Freedom of Information Act, Savage uncovered e-mails by British authorities who made the decision.  The e-mails demonstrated that because most of the people on the list were Muslim, the government feared that radicals would falsely allege that the “unacceptable behavior” policy was specifically targeted at the Muslim community.  Therefore, authorities sought a non-Muslim to place on the list in order to achieve “balance in exclusion cases”, or diversity in banning.

The Home Office’s prime researcher found no evidence that Michael Savage advocated violence, or that violence was ever committed as the result of his words. Nevertheless, then-Home Secretary Jacqui Smith used a collection of Savage’s sound-bites out-of-context to serve as the basis for his ban.  She insisted that the talk show host sought to “provoke others to serious criminal acts and foster hatred which might lead to intercommunity violence.”

Savage wrote to the US State Department, the UK Home Office, and the British Prime Minister in an attempt to get his name removed from the “name and shame” list.  Failing to get results, he subsequently filed a defamation law suit against the British Home Office and Jacqui Smith in her personal capacity.  (Smith had resigned amidst allegations of corruption and financial impropriety unrelated to the Savage case).

Though most Brits had not heard of Michael Savage prior to his ban, his name is now likely a household word.  The Secretary’s slurs made the American talk show host a target for Islamists.  Therefore, after hiring body guards, Savage made numerous media appearances in Britain in order to plead his case.

America’s first amendment was not written to protect polite speech or politically correct speech.  It was written, in part, to protect controversial, offensive, and cantankerous political speech.  The speech in which Michael Savage engaged was legal in America.  And though the UK has no first amendment, it purports to maintain freedom of speech and is signatory to treaties that promote it.

Free speech is not limited to the right to express one’s viewpoints.  It includes the right not to be punished for expressing ideas contrary to those of the government.  That means the right not to be libeled or slandered, not to have the government knowingly make false statements about you, or falsely attribute statements to you.  It also means the right not to have the government ban you from the country as an alternative means of censorship.

Legal restrictions of free speech do not occur overnight.  The process is gradual.  First, self-censorship is encouraged, then “guidelines” are issued.  Eventually, legal complaints lead to civil penalties, and finally criminal prosecution.  Penalizing one man for asserting his free speech rights also has the effect of chilling the speech of others, who take heed of the consequences.

Across Europe, the progression is evident.  Islamic blasphemy laws are being construed more broadly in countries that have non-Muslim majorities.  In Canada,  Human Rights Commissions regularly issue civil fines for “Islamophobic” speech or speech “likely” to cause hatred, even if no hatred results.  To defend themselves, respondents must endure a punitive bureaucratic process, costing them inordinate amounts of time and money.  In the Netherlands, Geert Wilders, Member of Parliament, will be placed on criminal trial January 20, 2010 for producing a short documentary on Islamic extremism, which allegedly constitutes “hate speech”.  If convicted, he faces the possibility of jail.  Ironically, Wilders, founder of the Party for Freedom, has been pushing for an international equivalent of America’s first amendment.

In the US, the signs are more subtle.  Though America doesn’t exert police power to stifle speech, she may pass legislation, issue executive orders, or create a politically correct climate of intimidation.  For example, the State Department, the National Counterterrorism Center, and the Department of Homeland Security issued memos to their employees discouraging the use of words ranging from Islamic terrorism to jihad.  Politically correct double standards are applied to college campus speakers. Ahmadinejad is ok, but David Horowitz and Nonie Darwish are hate-mongers undeserving of a platform.  The Fairness Doctrine looms large, threatening to shut down conservative talk radio since liberal talk radio cannot survive in the market place.  Also, for the first time in history, the FCC has a diversity czar.  He mandates private broadcasters to pay license fees that support PBS, doing indirectly what he cannot do directly.

Just this past year, DHS, the Missouri Information Analysis Center, the Maryland National Guard and Nancy Pelosi have all equated “right-wing extremists”, military vets, tea-partiers, and libertarian political groups, to threats normally associated with terrorists.  Expressing fear of violence from those who espouse none, creates paranoia in law enforcement, who may respond with unfounded intimidation tactics.  And in the UN, the United States in conjunction with Egypt, recently introduced a resolution that aspires to restrict criticism of Islam around the globe.

Under the facade of “sensitive speech” or “responsible speech” radical Muslims and the leftists who join them, seek the authority to limit the words and ideas of those with whom they disagree.  Instead of winning the war of ideas in a fair fight, those in power seek to shut down the debate.  After all, those who have weak arguments or false arguments must be unsettled by those who might win on the merits.

Those who benefit from restrictions on speech are those in power.  Currently, that is the political left.  Critical thinking serves as its enemy.  Dissent is suddenly unpatriotic.  Questions are discouraged.  People assume they hold the right not to be offended.  Expression of alternative viewpoints is precluded.

Academic institutions, once America’s shining example of intellectual diversity, now serve as leftist indoctrination centers.  Worse, some national security threats can no longer be openly discussed by intelligence professionals.  DHS whitewashes the problems.  The media fails to report them.

Free speech serves as the foundation of free and democratic societies.  Without free speech there can be no political opposition. Those who oppose government or mainstream views are oppressed, penalized, imprisoned, or even executed.  All socialist, communist, fascist, and tyrannical regimes know that the first step in stemming political opposition to their power is to stifle free speech.  The Nazis burned books, Stalin outlawed non-state controlled newspapers, and Iran is currently jailing those who peacefully protest June’s election outcome.  In some American journalistic circles, terrorism seems less subject to criticism than objectively reporting its roots.

In western countries, free speech ought not be considered a privilege but a fundamental right.  Its restriction doesn’t merely violate human rights, but additionally constitutes a national security risk.  In order to secure America’s freedom, the public must be informed of freedom’s ideological threats.  Intelligence must be permitted to discuss ideological motivations for terrorism.  The media has a duty, not to be “sensitive” but to report accurately.  Academia has an obligation to foster independent thought.

Banned in Britain is an easy, interesting, and enlightening read.  Savage portrays his story in context of the increasing social, political and legal encroachments on western freedom of speech.  Those who speak out with differing, conservative, or controversial viewpoints are incrementally being silenced.  Now an American talk show host can be banned from the country that gave us the Magna Carta.  Will the thousands of listeners who share his views be next?

  • Robert Bernier

    Haven forbid – The Americans could be next!

    You should see this video ! http://xrl.us/bgscr5

  • motherartist

    when I complained that there were foreign outlaw gangsters selling heroin on the streets of my neighborhood, the leftist politicos held a press conference in front of my home and said I was a racist and should be punished. One of them translated that message into the language of the gangsters who were nearby.

  • Larry

    Unfortunately the “liberals” are the most illiberal people on the planet. For example, a “racist” is anyone who's winning an argument with a liberal. Michael Savage is infinitely more intelligent than any of the vermin in the Democrat party, which makes him a big threat. Long live Savage.

  • USMCSniper

    Herbert Marcuse says it, anything the right does is always bad and should not be tolerated; anything the left does is always good and should be welcomed.” This would explain the emotional intensity and animosity in politics now: The other side never deserves even minimal respect.

    It's not enough to disagree with conservative viewpoints; one has to undermine and delegitimize them. Mock them. Put them beyond the pale. Incidentally, Marcuse, Fish and others on the left who want to “withdraw” tolerance from the speech and ideas of their opponents count centrist Democrats among them. That is by the way, what happened to Joe Lieberman for just being a patriot.

  • trodaball

    The Obamanana Republic which is being installed here will no doubt use every trick in their tyrannical arsenal to silence conservative dissent, unless they fear the people. We must keep pressure on all the tyrants in today's Washington D.C.

  • keithrage

    What a joke, so let's have one,
    What do you call a good looking Jihadist?
    Asiff.
    If we cannot have free speech even through humour then it's the end of color and we will all be a silent grey.

  • thinker1

    soon those gangsters will be your countrymen, thanks to NAU, as told by our gov. on:
    http://www.spp.gov

    WE are the enemies of our Congress and liberals.

    Deborah has missed great quote of Michael Savage: “Liberalism is a mental disease”

  • thinker1

    Muslims win in our courts, shutting us up. Why can't we, in great traditions of Radio Free Europe, inform them, that 72 virgins do not exist, that it is a joke? Why those sending them to go Kaboom do not want to enjoy those heavenly pleasures themselves????

    KIBERALISM IS A MENTAL DISORDER.
    LISTEN TO SAVAGE, GROW UP.

  • bushlikesdick2

    If the Brits need the balance the sheet then they should put Limbaughs fat ass ín there along with Savage — that humburger eater can tip any scale.

    but I prefer that someone lure Limbaugh to England with a weenie roast and apply the opposite — Hasta la vista a-hole!

  • bushlikesdick2

    Unfortunatly, the Brits are right about thier decision and it isn't for the reason Weiss suggests:

    Apparantly, Savage is a Sodomite on the inside and homophibic on the outside. There appears to be evidence that suggests that he has made some pretty vile insinuations towards the Muslim community in that regard.

    England is in no position to allow such flaming behavior coming from a liability of an American talk show host.

    I don't blame them any more than I blame Pastor Haggard's Church for distancing them from his as well.

    Man o man, we have some pretty sick freaks in the GOP.

  • Larry

    You're a typical liberal. You can't find any real reason to criticise someone's politics, so you attack their waistline. Stupid liberals. It must pain you so much to hear the reality that Savage speaks. You liberals hate reality, so you live in a world of unreality.

  • mrdavidkolds

    You engage in the very vulgar slander you condemn.
    Ever wonder if you are anything more than a product of your environment and genetics? Have you ever stepped out of the box you grew up in and used your mind to take a really hard, objective, open minded look at your world from the outside? If not, how can you be sure you are even a fully conscious, individual, human being, and not just another biological robot? How do you know all your blabbering isn’t just bad programming and genetics? Raised in different circumstances would “you” be a raving right winger today? Have you ever had an original, creative thought that wasn’t spoon fed to you? Who exactly are “you”? Or more to the point, are “you”?

  • Larry

    I'm a “right-winger” in your eyes because I speak the truth. So be it.

    By the way, everything you just vomited up onto this page was typical leftist doublespeak – overanalytical and nonsensical. If we left everything up to you libs, nothing would get done.

  • bushlikesdick2

    You want substance Larry ? Here is substance with an objective mind:

    Mike Savage speaking:

    “ Oh, so you're one of those sodomites. You should only get AIDS and die, you pig; how's that? Why don't you see if you can sue me, you pig? You got nothing better to do than to put me down, you piece of garbage? You got nothing to do today? Go eat a sausage, and choke on it. Get trichinosis. Now do we have another nice caller here who's busy because he didn't have a nice night in the bathhouse who's angry at me today? Put another, put another sodomite on….no more calls?…I don't care about these bums; they mean nothing to me. They're all sausages.[33][34] ”

    That is Mike Savage speaking to some apparent flaming queer on one of his radio shows just before the network canned him for his absurd behavior as you can read for yourself. Apparantly, the caller wasn't being vile like Savage but was just acting queer like a queer does.

    I find it interesting that some right wingers find me vile but participate in this sort of vile behavior which if far far from being Christ-like as they seem to want to pretend to be.

    Yes Larry, I have just as much of a right to be just as vile and it doesn't make me a Liberal to be vile back at rightwingers — it makes me a free speaking American.

    There is a purpose for being vile — it emphasizes the volume of disapproval of ones actions in the particular subject.

    If I would offer you a cup of milk slightly stale and you swallowed it, you would politely tell me that it isn't fresh and declined to further drink any more.

    If I handed you a glass of milk sitting in the back of my truck for one week and you swallowed it without hesitation, would you be spitting milk in my face along with Merry Christmas and God bless you?

    No — hardly, My forfathers granted me and Mike Savage the right to express ourselves regardless of how much you would like to control either one of us for you personal agendas.

    Regarding Micheal Savage: I find him to be a very interesting man who has lived life to the fullest. I can't find many people who have came from a childhood as difficult as his was and still manage to grab life by the balls and take as far as possible.

    He is an extemists which I don't particularly want his type representing people like me in my country. I find it necessary to have checks and balances for the purpose of not letting either him or people to the extreme left become powerfull enough to influence the people caught in the middle that just want either fanatical group to stay out of our personal business.

    By comment, that reacted to is no different than the BS that FPM vomits everyday— heresay with no substance. FPM doesn't know anything for sure — they just take some facts published by someone else, regurgitate it, and pawn it off as some sort of revelation.

    Why can't I do the same? Do you deny me this right?

    Further more, I'm the one that commented on the subject and it is you that made the Ad Homien statement only regarding me.

    It is you that is in the wrong this time Larry.

  • Larry

    TL;DR

  • bushlikesdick2

    ( hands over ears — while screaming at the top of your voice)

    lol

  • Mike Smith, M.A.

    Doctor Mike rides on my ferryboat across San Francisco Bay. I wear his trademark "Savage Nation" baseball hat so much I have 5 spares as each one wears out. The head of the SFPD Tactical Squard, the head-busting riot police, said to me"Great hat!". Old ladies, tourist families from Boston and Florida and England exclaim how wonderful my hat is. My employer, the Golden Gate Bridge Ferry Division issued an official memo I am NOT to wear my hat. So I do.
    Eff'em.
    Mike Smith
    Kelly's Cove
    San Francisco

    • Larry

      Good for you. Political correctness/cowardice sucks dick.

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