November 01, 2013

The First Amendment and Britain

When I made the point that Northern Ireland needs the same liberty to express ideas and opinions as in the US I was rebuffed on the point that the First Amendment allows channels such as Fox News and the ideas it disseminates to flourish. Fair point. And I took it without much of a response, although I knew it was a matter that needed more exploration. I think Nick Cohen writing in The Spectator is onto something. He said here:
"The left blames the failure of the masses to embrace its ideas on the malign influence of Murdoch and Dacre. If attacking freedom of the press will help their cause, they will do it. The left wants right wing journalists silenced, the right want left wing journalists silenced, and everybody wants to tell the BBC what it can and can’t broadcast. 
In the United States, Fox News and the New York Times fight like cat and dog. But when James Risen, the White House correspondent of Fox News, was being threatened by the Obama administration, the New York Times and liberal journalists across America defended him steadfastly. Whatever their political differences, they believed in the greater importance of the first amendment to the American constitution. 
It reads: 
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances" 
If you ever become a temporary dictator, and have the chance to enact just one law, make it a British first amendment. As each day passes, the need for it grows ever more urgent."

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