Why banning demagogues is not a good idea

December 30, 2015

Here are three people who were in the headlines recently, connected with proposals for banning the rights of others, or being banned themselves Tyson Fury 2008

Donald Trump

Katy Hopkins

Tyson Fury

Demagogues?

Hold off for the moment on whether these three people are demagogues. I want to concentrate on a different point.

Trump and Hopkins

Each of these individuals has attracted attention for widely-publicized views which have triggered strong emotional reactions for and against them and their advocates.

‘The Donald’ has skillfully drawn attention to his Presidential campaign. His views trigger reactions of all kinds from revulsion, humour, to wide enthusiasm towards some perceived as a strong leader. The most recent call for a ban on all Muslims from entry into the United States is for some bizarre, unworkable, unethical, and stupid.

Katy Hopkins has been recognized by Trump for her journalistic work supporting him against his detractors.

An illustrative example of the mutual admiration between them came in in a broadcast interview with the Daily Politics programme. It seems that in her newspaper column she uses Trump’s call to ban Muslims to advance an overlapping set of beliefs.

She concedes the proposed banning is unworkable, but maintains Trump’s heart is in the right place in trying to do something about what they both believe to address ‘the Muslim problem’.

Tyson Fury

Tyson Fury, newly crowned boxing champion has expressed himself in terms designed to hit the headlines by infuriating some groups he disparages. It is not clear whether he, unlike Mr Trump or Ms Hopkins, is attempting to manipulate the press or whether he is being used by them

Petitions pile up

One petition that gained support called for the banning of  Trump from entering the UK for his schemes to ‘deal with’ Muslims (ban them entry to the United States) and with Mexicans (ban them entry into the United States by building a very big wall).

Another petition wanted to ban Tyson Fury from being a candidate on the BBC Sports Personality of the Year.

Hopkins, in a somewhat frenzied TV interview, mentioned a third petition which she claims has been deliberately ignored through BBC bias because it showed support for Trump’s proposal of a ban on Muslims entering the United States.

The Case against banning: the unintended consequences argument

Where to begin? The pragmatic position is that any proposed ban should be scrutinized for unintended consequences. Metaphorically, ‘don’t turn him or her into a martyr’.

The Case against banning: The moral dilemmas

There are various ethical dilemmas to consider. Claims about depriving people of their human rights are rarely without dilemmas. Should the State exercise its right to kill killers?

Or silence those opposed to free speech for security reasons.

The right to give offense

Another thought-provoking idea. I you take freedom of speech argument taken to one of its less logical conclusions you find yourself supporting banning and restricting a fundamental human freedom of speech to those who are believed to threaten a similar basic human right in others.

Think carefully, dear leaders, before supporting banning persons as a matter of principle.

 


BBC SPOTY: Pretentious, sentimental, compulsive viewing

December 16, 2013

The BBC is extremely proud of its Sports Personality of the Year programme [SPOTY]. It combines much that is admirable and more than a little that is embarrassing and self indulgent

You know when a program has achieved cult status when the BBC gives it a cozy acronym or an abbreviated pet name. ‘Strictly’ [Come Dancing] and MOTD [Match of the day] are examples. SPOTY is another.

SPOTY bigged up

Each autumn, SPOTY is tirelessly and shamelessly bigged up by the BBC for several months. It has grown lengthier and more pretentious, decade by decade, for sixty years. It is tempting to have a rant about wasted money of license payers who are also hard working tax payers.By way of contrast MOTD at least remains cozy and relatively low budget and rather unchanged despite the intrusion of new technology, and countless replays of controversial refereeing decisions.

No vote fixing this year

So, SPOTY for 2013 came and went [December 15th, 2013]. One theme this year was avoiding any scandal of vote fixing. The concern was palpable and great effort went into the changes. This partly because of the rise of the mighty on-line betting industry, partly because the BBC is nearly paranoid about SOTY [scandal of the year]. Evidence abounded of potential SOTY bloopers. For example, the extra care to acknowledge disabled sporting figures, since the time they forgot to make suitable arrangements for athletes in wheelchairs, a few years ago.

Don’t forget the gals

Two women were added to the ten finalists after a twitch in the direction of a SOTY story earlier in the year. In a nice touch, John Inverdale, an appropriately cozy and lovey commentator, was banished from the show after inappropriate remarks he made last July about Wimbledon ladies winner Marion Bartoli. And all was made fine by having Marion announce one of the prizes, and having Marina Navratilova hand over the big one to Andy Murray, who, you may remember, won the gentleman’s singles at that same tennis tournament.

And the winner is …Andy Murray

The bookies had made Andy Murray overwhelming favourite. This could have also been the stuff of SOTY because Andy wasn’t present. In the build up to the SPOTY, there was some quite anxious discussion about whether Andy should be banned from receiving any award, because he had chosen to remain in Miami training and recovering from surgery.

PAOTY

Which brings me to PAOTY, the newly installed patronizing award of the year. The winning award was to a nice couple of ‘unsung heroes’ from Wilmslow, who had done much needed work to promote basketball in that neck of the woods. The interview seemed to have had the virtue of being completely unprompted and unrehearsed. A true contender for PAOTY.

Why didn’t I switch off?

OK. So the programme was pretentious, sentimental, and bling-heavy. Why didn’t I switch off? Why was the trusty remote not put to use? I don’t think it was only because of the promise of material for LWD. Truth is, SPOTY, despite all its other features, makes compelling watching. Like a cozy horror movie.