Press Editorial on Clark

Our Prime Minister has been in the Phillipines where once again she sold out free speech. The Press Editorial says it all:

Rather than, for instance, deploring the extremist threats of death and destruction that followed the cartoons’ publication, and the attempt (largely successful) to intimidate the into self-censorship, she chose again to emphasise the alleged poor judgment of the editors who used them.

The Prime Minister could have told her audience of multinational religious representatives, some of them from countries that have only the shakiest grip of the idea of freedom, that free speech is not just an optional extra for free and democratic government, but that such government depends upon it. She could have added that free speech consists not just of sober debate and argument, but includes all kinds of abuse, mockery, ridicule and other such verbal and pictorial mayhem, and that no religious or political or other opinion can legitimately impose itself on the others to protect itself from such stuff. She could have added much more besides in defence of this essential element of the western political tradition to which she is heir.

As a figure on the Left of politics, Clark has often claimed to speak up for the rights of others. It is deeply disappointing that in the face of an unacceptable challenge to a central right of our own she has settled for the kind of mealy-mouthed posturing that she engaged in this week in Manila.

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