List Makers and Lit Matches

The zealots of Stop Funding Hate and their supporters are utterly convinced they’re doing the right thing, and that should give anyone pause for thought. Carrying out bad acts in the knowledge that they’re bad is worrisome enough. Carrying out bad acts because you sincerely believe yourself to be in alignment with a higher, more virtuous endgame is the first step along the path to a contagious and resilient form of autocratic thinking.

Let’s be honest about how unsavoury Stop Funding Hate’s purpose is.

They want to censor the press, although they’ll deny it, claiming they’re just exercising their right to protest through capitalist mechanisms. This is only a half truth though. The reality is that they’re exercising their right to protest through capitalist mechanisms in order that writing they would disapprove of will be altered to please them, or will simply not be published at all.

As Ray Bradbury once wrote,

“There is more than one way to burn a book. And the world is full of people running about with lit matches.”

If you cut off someone’s funding to stop them publishing certain material, then you are censoring them, and Stop Funding Hate are campaigning to do precisely that. The clue is in their name.

Here’s what people who don’t want censorship will do, when they read something they disagree with: they might ignore it and move on. If they’re aware the publication they read it in always runs that kind of material, then they’ll avoid that publication. Or they might take issue with the content, and write something in response, explaining what’s at fault with the offending propositions. They can beat the ideas presented with better ideas of their own. Or they might use ridicule, choosing to get on social media and take the piss.

The point is that if an idea is weak, then it will be easy to take apart and go to town with. There will be no need for censorship, because its flaws can be straightforwardly revealed for all to see. So when Stop Funding Hate move vehemently to have a line of thinking restricted, we should immediately wonder if there’s something of interest in the ideas at risk of being declared off limits.

Stop Funding Hate and their supporters are so arrogant that they believe they ought to have the ultimate authority to decide what we, what everybody, should be allowed to read and publish. And let’s extend that a little further. If it’s verboten to read and write certain things, then it must also be socially unacceptable to say those things. What, then, should we do with the thoughts that we are forbidden from expressing?

4 minutes into this BBC Newsnight debate, SFH director Richard Wilson admits his true agenda: “we want a media that does what we want it to”

If Stop Funding Hate think the views expressed in the Daily Mail, the Sun, and the Daily Express are so utterly heinous that companies should grovel in humiliation for having advertised next to them, then what are their views on the millions of their fellow citizens who align with those newspapers’ editorial positions? Is everyone who intuits a degree of sense in the robust outlook presented by conservative tabloids also to be shunned, shamed, and have their income streams disrupted? Should they be sacked? Forced to recant? Where would such dissenters from the progressive rule book fit in Stop Funding Hate’s heavy-handed left-wing promised land?

And underpinning all of this is a simple, wholly unacceptable fact: that a small group of people is trying to put themselves in the position of filtering what we can read, having installed themselves as our moral and intellectual superiors. They believe we can’t be trusted with the freedom to make up our own minds, and so they will do it for us.

Anyone who has the least shred of personal dignity should object wholeheartedly to the jobsworth list makers at Stop Funding Hate, and all the brainwashed drones who embarrass themselves by siding with them. We must have space to read and write whatever we like, to present and consider the widest possible range of viewpoints, and to engage without fear in the marketplace of ideas. Those who back Stop Funding Hate might call themselves progressive, but in fact, they aim to hinder and restrict the very mechanisms by which a society makes progress. They’re charlatans and vandals, assaulting priceless freedoms they don’t understand.

Just imagine a world where everyone, of all political persuasions, behaved like the tinpot tyrants at Stop Funding Hate, and managed to achieve their aims. There’d be no public expression of opinion. The Daily Mail, The Sun and The Express would be gone. An anti-SJW mob would have made sure the Guardian and the Independent were completely destroyed. The Times and the Telegraph would get it in the neck from some group or other of ideological hardliners, for being trans-critical and pro-Brexit, respectively.

You might see arguments that Stop Funding Hate aren’t opposed to the right-wing in general, evidenced by their not targeting the above mentioned Times and Telegraph, but this is a dishonest assertion. Because they only want to control three conservative newspapers and zero liberal ones, rather than five conservative newspapers and zero liberal ones, that should put our minds at ease? Am I supposed to doff my cap and be grateful they’ll allow me to view any thread of conservative thought at all?

And make no mistake, the fact that they’re only going after three newspapers right now means absolutely nothing. A censor lays his boundaries arbitrarily, and will re-lay them again, and again, and again, until nothing which weakens his position is allowed to pass. There’s a reason why we resist this kind of restriction of our freedoms from the very start—it’s because it doesn’t stand still, and it never ends.

Give them a sniff of power, and they’ll be back for more.

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