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Tuesday, 4 September 2012

A Little More Hypocrisy, If You Don't Mind

Last night on Twitter, I saw this campaign mentioned which is about reforming Section 5 of the 1986 Public Order Act, that wacky and abused British law that says you can be arrested if you possibly disturb, upset, or offend someone.  It's called Reform Section 5 - Feel Free to Insult Me.

Naturally, I support the right to free speech, even offensive speech.  Do people really need to arrested for tweeting dumb-ass comments? Even despicable racist comments?  I hardly think so. Nobody has the right to not be offended.  Anyway, whilst perusing the campaign's site, I clicked through to its supporters page, as you do, and was dismayed to see that at least two MPs listed as supporting this reform 5 campaign are also known supporters of plain packaging. 

Stop. Hold up a moment, bruv, I said to myself.

We all know that proponents for plain packaging have dressed it up as a Public Health issue, to protect the gullible children and women, but what it really is about is whether tobacco companies have the right to package their products in the manner of their choosing. It's about speech. Free speech.

Now you can argue all you like that packaging is not a matter for free speech but I really don't see a difference.  Speech takes on many forms. A photo. A drawing. Verbal and written communication. A logo or trade mark.  A middle finger, or two fingers... that is speech.  A raised eyebrow or a frown ... that is also speech. Dropping trousers, bending over and mooning someone ... yeah, that's speech, too.  Anything that conveys an idea to another must be considered as speech. A packet of cigarettes, even.  You don't have to like it.

But it is all speech. In a truly free society, all speech must be protected.

Plain packaging, however, deliberately aims to suppress free speech for a particular commodity.  It additionally aims to suppress a consumer's ability to identify with that form of speech, if that consumer chooses to do so. We might call that brand identity. So plain packaging interferes with my ability to freely express myself by using a particular product, in much the same way that computer users identify as PC or Apple.

So about those MPs.  Have you met Fiona Bruce MP?  She appears on our Sheep-Minions page as a supporter of plain packaging. Fiona Bruce is also a hypocrite for supporting the Reform 5 campaign. She is quoted here on the supporters page as saying:
"I support the Reform Section 5 campaign because freedom of speech is one of the most precious – and fundamental – elements of a free society. Lose that and you risk losing a whole lot more."
Which is all well and good, but how on earth can she hold that view whilst simultaneously saying that tobacco companies and consumers of tobacco products do not have a right to free speech?  This is utterly hypocritical.

So I really cannot see how Fiona Bruce can glom onto a campaign espousing the virtues -- no, the right to freedom of speech for all if she's so willing to restrict the speech of certain others that she disagrees with.  But isn't that always the way? 

We also note that Sheep-Minion Caroline Lucas MP also appears as a supporter of the Reform Section 5 campaign.

No doubt there are many more lurking out there, pretending to care about free speech, so long as the speaker suits them, and it suits their political careers.

This is why I want to Vote Them All Out.  Let's ensure we do not forget these two hypocrites.

Meanwhile, if you want to view the Reform 5 campaign's latest video, you can watch it here. It's got music and everything.