Trevor Phillips is easily the best maker of current affairs documentaries in the UK today. His latest offering was “Has Political Correctness Gone Mad?” (not his title, he says he dislikes it) on Channel 4, Thursday 23rd February 2017.
Phillips is a former President of the National Union of Students and for many years he was head of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (previously the Commission for Racial Equality). He was New Labour’s go-to guy on equality issues and was also the one of the people who promoted the term “Islamophobia” in the 1990s. He is not some pub bore or 1970s “comedian” who thinks racial slurs are funny; as a Briton of West Indian heritage he said (with deadpan irony) that he is “familiar” with the word “n*****”. He has broken many shibboleths of the “liberal elite” in recent years and has become an advocate of the “right to offend.”
I believe passionately in the right to freedom of speech as outlined in Article 19 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights…
“Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”
No-one has the right to infringe another person’s freedom; your rights end where mine begin. If you are not comfortable with the Catholic Church or American fundamentalists limiting freedom of speech then you cannot support Islamic “clerics” trying to do the same. If you would oppose right-wingers like Nigel Farage or Marine Le Pen setting the terms of debate then you must oppose attempts by left-wingers like Diane Abbott or Owen Jones to do the same. After all, who is to decide what the limits on free speech are to be? And who elects those people? And who makes sure those people don’t overstep their power? And so on and so on, ad infinitum. Quis cusodiet ipsos custodes?
As usual, I must add that I do not wish to defend bigots who want to use racist terms. I think back to my 1970s childhood and shudder to think about the racist language that was used by pretty much everyone, myself included. But as Trevor Phillips said in his documentary, “Stopping an employer calling me n***** to my face is not going to stop my job application from hitting the waste paper bin.” The pathetic bans imposed by the po-faced “student activists” featured in the programme only serve to make serious issues look ridiculous. I noticed that all these “activists” were white and were being vicariously offended on behalf of other people. Phillips was openly laughing at these humourless pedants and even used the phrase “virtue signalling” that sends some self-styled “liberals” into paroxysms of righteous indignation.
Trevor Phillips should be given a knighthood for this programme alone. Perhaps he can be given the one earmarked for David Beckham?