Peter Tatchell Communique

Peter Tatchell has forwarded to the void a copy of the speech he made at last Saturday’s March for Free Expression (reproduced below)which was very kind of him as we’d been fairly rude about the whole affair.

Unfortunately this led to controversy over in the void as it appears this transcript does not contain the comments which led to these remarks

“was absolutely gobsmacked to hear Peter Tatchell make a plea to the police to stop being ‘afraid of upsetting the Muslim community’ and to not allow them to be ‘above the law’.” as well as

“Tatchell’s rant was like something out of the pages of the Daily Mail – I did not until today realise how divisive and blinkered the man actually is and felt absolutely angered to hear him jumping on the bandwagon of bashing a very vulnerable group of people in our society.

To say I am disgusted is to put it very mildly.”

Shocked and concerned the void immediately replied to Tatchell asking for clarification, had he censored himself? … or was it all just a bit of a misunderstanding. Peter replied with the following

“It does not include the ad lib bit where I mentioned that Islamist fundamentalists are threatening to kill me, gay Muslims and Muslim dissidents. I condemned the police for failing to provide us with protection and for failing to prosecute the people threatening to kill us. They police justify their inaction saying “we can’t afford to upset the Muslim community.” I pointed out that incitement and threats to murder are a crime. Everyone is entitled to the equal protection of the law. If the BNP threatens to kill black or Muslim people I expect the police to arrest them. If extremist Mulsims threaten to kill me and others, I expect the police to arrest them as well.

That is what I said on Saturday. I see nothing wrong with that.”

hmmm…

having pondered this for a couple of days, the void wonders how much the personal and the political may have become mixed up here. Being on the end of death threats from anyone can’t be very nice, however this police inaction could well be down to a dislike of Peter rather than a genuine concern about upsetting the muslim community … simply even revealing the plod to have a ‘well you bring it on yourself’ attitude to activists.

the void has not noticed the police to be particularly concerned about offending muslims, or any other ethnic group for that matter … although and of course Peter is right in his insistance that anyone making death threats should be treated the same by the old bill. I wonder though, if this rally, steeped in islamaphobia as it seemed to be in some quarters, was the best place to bring these opinions to the fore. the void would also say however that we kind it difficult to disagreee with any of the rest of his speech.

Peter also pointed out “most of Saturday’s speeches were not focussed on Islam. Lots of other free speech threats were also highlighted by me and others.” a good example is Rend Shakir’s speech here.

I for one still can’t get down with this bunch of posh-fash, weird liberls and out and out racists. Whilst having a certain admiriration to Tatchell, Rend Shakir and Maryam Namazie … I guess … for having the courage and strength of their conviction (and to stick it out on what must have been a dishwater dull day) it’s not difficult to see the direction that this campaign could move in. You begin to wonder, given the sorry turn out on Saturday, whether there is enough support amongst progressives, leftists and the like to steer this issue away from the far right … who are luvin’ it.

the void reckons whenever you stand on a platform with fascists they taint you, not the other way round, you can’t clean shit with soap.

Free speech is a universal human right
London – 25 March 2006

“Free speech is a fundamental human right for every person on this planet. It is a right for all, not for some.

The only instances where free speech can be legitimately restricted are when people incite violence and libel or defame others. Threats and untruths diminish free speech and open debate.

Freedom of expression is not a western value; it is a universal humanitarian value that is the right of all people.

By demanding the right to free speech, we are not seeking to impose western ideas on non-western people and cultures. We are saying that everyone, everywhere has a right to freedom of expression.

This rally is about more than defending the right of newspapers to publish the Danish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.

It is in opposition to all attacks on free speech, including attacks on freedom of expression by our own government, such as the ban on protests without prior police permission in the Westminster area. This ban echoes the way the Kremlin used to restrict the right to protest in the bad old days of the Soviet Union.

I am here because I support the right to free speech.

I am a radical left-wing Green, committed to universal human rights and social justice. Not everyone will agree with my politics, nor will I agree with their politics. That is what this protest is about: the right of people to express their opinions even if we don’t like them.

As well as challenging religious-inspired tyranny, let us also say loud and clear that we defend Muslim communities against prejudice and discrimination

Let us declare that we deplore the homophobia, race hate, Islamophobia and anti-Semitism of the British National Party

That we condemn the abuses of the war on terror, such as the shooting dead of Jean Charles de Menezes and detention without trial in Guantanamo Bay

That we reject the government’s assault on civil liberties and individual freedom, including its persecution and impoverishment of asylum seekers, and its plans to create a surveillance state by the imposition of ID cards on an unconvinced and unwilling nation.

Free speech is the right to urge British soldiers to disobey illegal and unjust orders to use nuclear weapons and to invade foreign nations in defiance of international law.

Free speech is the right to condemn the British army of occupation in Iraq.

Free speech is the right to whistleblow on state corruption, illegality and hypocrisy, such as cash for peerages and false claims about weapons of mass destruction.

Free speech is the right to call for the disestablishment of the Church of England

Free speech is the right to insult the Queen, the Prime Minister and the Archbishop of Canterbury – even though I personally prefer to criticise rather than insult.

When it comes to free speech, I am an equal opportunities free speecher.

Free speech is the right of others to mock and ridicule me. I may not like it. It might be unfair. But that’s democracy.

Some people are mischievously portraying this protest as an anti-Muslim rally. Not true.

We condemn unreservedly any attempt to demonise or scapegoat our Muslim brothers and sisters.

We stand for free speech for everyone, including Muslims – providing their speech does not diminish the rights and freedoms of others.

This protest is not about a clash of civilisations.

Both fundamentalists and progressives can be found in all faiths, politics, ethnicities, nations and cultures.

No society has a monopoly of enlightenment and tolerance.

Muslim countries like Bangladesh have produced Enlightenment icons such as the feminist writer Taslima Nasreen; while supposedly cultured nations like Britain and France have spawned the Dark Ages intolerance of the British National Party and the Front National.

In January, I challenged Sir Iqbal Sacranie of the Muslim Council of Britain when he denounced homosexuality as immoral, harmful and diseased. But I did not seek to ban him, nor did I support calls for his prosecution. I defended Sir Iqbal’s right to free speech.

Sadly, Sir Iqbal did not reciprocate my tolerance.

He wants the freedom to be offensive to gay people but doesn’t believe any one should have the right to be offensive about Islam.

Sir Iqbal is seeking news laws to ban the ridiculing and satirising of the Muslim faith.

My response is this:

All human beings are worthy of respect, but not all ideas deserve respect.

There is no obligation to respect oppressive ideas like Nazism, misogyny, Islamophobia, white supremacism, homophobia, creationism or any form of religious fundamentalism.

These ideas deserve ridicule and contempt.

Let our message be loud and clear:

The right to express an opinion, without fear of threats and violence, is a fundamental human right – for all people, in all places and at all times.

Free speech today, free speech tomorrow, free speech forever,” said Mr Tatchell.
www.petertatchell.net

what do you call a 100 wet nazi’s?
BNP come out in support of free expressionists
I feel I should clarify my position…
Free expressionists climb down
Tatchell to call for end of the C of E this Saturday!
more comedy from the free expressionists
Right to public racism march shames the left this Saturday

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6 responses to “Peter Tatchell Communique

  1. So tatchell sent you a copy of his speech and censored out the offensive (sorry, ‘ad lib’) stuff when he made a specific plea to the surrounding police to stop being afraid of upsetting the Muslim community and that they are ‘not above the law’? Sounds like someone is feeling a tad guilty otherwise why wouldn’t he have sent you his speech in its entirety?

    Just to clarify, Tatchell did indeed call on the police to ‘stop being afraid of upsetting the Muslim community’ and he did indeed say ‘they are not above the law’. Shocking stuff for a rally supposedly not intended to whip up Islamophobia.

    Incidentally, he was quoted as saying this to PinkNews:

    “Respect is, by their own admission, courting the Muslim vote. No problem with that. But they have made the erroneous assumption that all Muslims are sexist and homophobic. For that reason, they tend to down play their support for women’s and gay rights. Whenever the gay community is attacked by Islamic fundamentalists, Respect nearly always sides with the fundamentalists against the gay community. It shows their opportunist politics. They are not true and reliable friends of LGBT people.”

    And re Galloway: “He used to be a good friend (of the gay community) until a few years ago. He had a very good voting record on LGBT issues. But since he’s formed Respect and attempted to court the Muslim vote, he has quietly sidelined his support for gay rights.”

    I have not noticed Galloway or Respect ‘sidelining support for gay rights’. Seeing as Tatchell reads this blog, perhaps he can point out specifics. For someone who apparently thinks ‘all Muslims are sexist and homophobic’ and therefore ‘tends to play down their support for women’s and gay rights’ as Tatchell claims of Galloway, Galloway sure did a good impression of someone not at all worried about the apparent homophobia among his supporters in the BB house, when his closest friend was a gay transvestite man. But let’s not let the facts get in the way of another tedious slur on Galloway, eh Tatchell?

    Perhaps it’s Tatchell himself who believes that all Muslims are sexist and homophobic?

  2. Funny.

    “the void reckons whenever you stand on a platform with fascists they taint you, not the other way round, you can’t clean shit with soap.”

    Maybe Galloway shouldn’t be standing in the same podiums with people like Yvonne Ridley who, on the Jordan bombings, seemed not to be too fazed by the blowing up of the debauched place.

    Also curious why Global Civility has Hizbul-Tahrir as part of their supporters.

    And Galloway sharing podiums with Assad, Qaddafi, Hussein…

    But of course… it’s not that I’m saying you’re a Hypocrite or anything.

    You know… it’s just one of those things :).

  3. what’s the void got to do with it? Those were my comments not the void’s.

    Just for the record.

  4. thanks mc, the void have their own thoughts on galloway, but think poor old anonymous things were all on the same side on the left!

    … if only

  5. Mc:

    The comment that was made that was Void’s was:

    “the void reckons whenever you stand on a platform with fascists they taint you, not the other way round, you can’t clean shit with soap.”

    His dismissive attitude to the rally based on the fact that right-wing groups share at least some of the same opinions is what is funny…

    …especially considering the effort expended to defend Respect and George Galloway.

    I mean why should Mr. Tatchell be reminded that you can’t clean shit with soap, without the same kind of requirement made of Respect, Galloway, yourself, Global Civility…

    Furthermore, I take exception to the statement “think poor old anonymous things were all on the same side on the left!”. Does The Void think he can presume where I stand on the political spectrum- or is the valiant defense of freedom of thought and expression no longer a “Left” issue.

    Strange.

  6. i think you’ve made your politics quite clear

    if you can find anything on this site which defend galloway or the respect party then let me know, because it means i’ve been hacked

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