NSS attacks new UK banning orders

NSS attacks new UK banning orders

Extremism Disruption Orders’ (EDOs) are tough new restrictions planned by the UK Government to curb radicalisation by jihadists.

But the new banning orders could be one of the biggest threats to freedom of expression ever seen in the UK, says the National Secular Society.

Tory MP Mark Spencer

Tory MP Mark Spencer

Responding to a a suggestion by Mark Spencer, MP for Sherwood in Nottinghamshire, that EDOs should, in some circumstances, be used against Christian teachers who teach children that gay marriage is “wrong”, NSS Executive Director Keith Porteous Wood, above, is quoted in the Telegraph as saying:

If EDOs really could be used to prevent teachers from talking about same-sex marriage, unless they are inciting violence, they are an even greater threat to freedom of expression than I had feared.

To suggest that EDOs guarantee freedom of expression [as Mark Spencer suggests] is not just inaccurate, it is the opposite of the truth; they are the largest threat to freedom of expression I have ever seen in Britain.

The spreading of hatred is far too vague a concept to be the basis of legal sanctions, and would be worryingly open to misuse, particularly by ideological opponents.

In a letter to a constituent, Spencer insisted that Christian teachers were still “perfectly entitled” to express their views on same-sex marriage – but only “in some situations”.

Christian campaigners said Spencer’s remarks confirmed what they had previously warned: that those who believe marriage should only be between a man and a woman would now be “branded extremists”.

Ministers have signalled that the orders, expected to be a key plank of the Government planned new Counter-Extremism Bill, would be used not only curb the activities of radical Islamist clerics but those who promote other views deemed to go against “British values”.

Ministers have defined British values in the past as including broad notions like democracy, tolerance and the rule of law.

Spencer was writing in response to an email from a constituent who was concerned about claims by the campaign group the Christian Institute that EDOs could be used against those with traditional beliefs. He wrote:

I believe that everybody in society has a right to free speech and to express their views without fear of persecution.

The EDOs will not serve to limit but rather to guarantee it: it is those who seek to stop other people expressing their beliefs who will be targeted.

Let me give you an example, one which lots of constituents have been writing about – talking about gay marriage in schools.

He went on to insist that Christians with traditional views on marriage are “perfectly entitled to express their views” but suggests it could constitute “hate speech” in some contexts.

The new legislation specifically targets hate speech, so teachers will still be free to express their understanding of the term ‘marriage’, and their moral opposition to its use in some situations without breaking the new laws.

The EDOs, in this case, would apply to a situation where a teacher was specifically teaching that gay marriage is wrong.

Simon Calvert, Deputy Director of the Christian Institute said:

I am genuinely shocked that we have an MP supporting the idea of teachers being branded extremists for teaching that marriage is between a man and a woman. This is exactly the kind of thing we’ve been warning about.

The Government says we’ve got nothing to worry about from their new extremism laws, but here is one of its own MPs writing to a constituent saying EDOs would stop teachers teaching mainstream Christian beliefs.

He added:

Ten years ago the Conservatives opposed Tony Blair’s unpopular law against ‘inciting religious hatred’, saying it jeopardised free speech – yet here they are seeking to bring in an even worse law.

EDOs will be a gross infringement of free speech and undermine the very British values they claim to protect.

20 responses to “NSS attacks new UK banning orders”

  1. Secular Humanist says:

    “Simon Calvert, Deputy Director of the Christian Institute said:
    I am genuinely shocked that we have an MP supporting the idea of teachers being branded extremists for teaching that marriage is between a man and a woman. This is exactly the kind of thing we’ve been warning about.”

    Well, I do find those views abhorrent, archaic, extreme and bigoted. In the same sense that I find similar views opposing interracial marriage, too. And teachers in our schools certainly shouldn’t be teaching such (personal) bigoted views, any more than we’d tolerate a white supremacist (or a black supremacist for that matter) teaching students their vile beliefs. Keep it at home.
    However, expressing such views shouldn’t be banned by law.

    In a free and open society such views should be freely expressed, and then challenged, scrutinized, ridiculed and even mocked if and when necessary.

    I think that free speech and free expression are the most important rights we have in a civilized society. And are worth protecting above all else.

    In a free and open society, good ideas will thrive and bad ideas will die – deservedly so. There’s no need to censor them. That’s the religious way of doing business. Let’s learn from their mistakes.

  2. jay says:

    Closely related to freedom of speech is freedom of conscience. People have feelings about things (whether religion based or not) and they have the right to hold and express (while not stepping on other peoples’ rights).

    People have internal reasons for feeling that abortion is wrong, or acceptable, that homosexuality is wrong, or acceptable, that engaging in military action is wrong, or acceptable. It is not the business of government, or society to forcibly suppress private choices of conscience.

  3. asquith says:

    Yes, I thought about that fucking shite Blair brought in as well. All of it intended to stifle criticism of isLame. Not that anything will be done about these schools Iftikhar Ahmed wants where the religion of peace will be imposed on pupils.

    Say what you like, but would this have happened so much as a year ago when we had a coalition?

  4. Trevor Blake says:

    England continues to do all it can to prevent a clear identification of its problem: Islam. The problem is ‘right wing’ activists or ‘racists’ or ‘hate speech’ or anything, anything but the belief system that is shared by the rapists of thousands of children, the 7/7 bombers and the men who nearly cut off a soldier’s head in broad daylight. Islam.

  5. TrickyDicky says:

    @jay says:
    Tue 4 Aug at 1:50 pm

    “private choices of conscience.”

    Except one of the three you mention is not a matter of conscience but is pure bigotry.

  6. barriejohn says:

    Trevor Blake: What do you want to do – ban Islam? You see to have completely missed the point of the above.

  7. asquith says:

    I am not Trevor Blake, but surrely the point is that banning criticsm of the religion of peace is the intention here just as it was with that pile of shit bLiar tried to introduce.

    Not everyone agrees with equal marriage, unffortunately, but it’s hardly up there with war crimes to have those views. Further, I bet nothing at all is done about the “free”schools the reigion of peace is setting up.

  8. barriejohn says:

    Asquith: The purpose of the EDOs may have been to prevent criticism of Islam, but we are talking about the principles of freedom of thought and freedom of expression, which are sacrosanct, whatever we think of those views and the people who hold them. You can’t start picking and choosing who has freedom of expression; we do have laws against incitement to violence, harassment, discrimination, etc. And I wouldn’t have ANY “faith schools”.

  9. sailor1031 says:

    What exactly are these “british values”? Seems to be yet another law to outlaw free speech without having to define what may not be said -like the “giving offence” BS – a crime has been committed when someone objects to what is said. How can the UK claim to have freedom of speech if any complaint criminalises what you just said?

  10. Vanity Unfair says:

    As people keep pointing out, you can think what you like but you can’t do what you like.
    The ethical limits to freedom of speech are well-known.
    The legal limits can set as many traps as they try to prevent. Once you try to stop people publishing their controversial (though not necessarily illegal) views they will respond along the lines of, “The law is only gagging me because I am telling the truth and the powers that be do not want you to know the truth because the truth will make you free.” Then will follow the discrimination, oppression and persecution claims and, if arrests are made, martyrs will be proclaimed. The whole exercise will have achieved the opposite of what was intended.
    The way to act is to criticise seriously, to present counter-arguments and when those are established you can move to satire, lampoonery, and ridicule. And always remember that “vulgar abuse” is not defamatory, at least in England. Mind you, it does weaken your case.

  11. Daz says:

    “In a letter to a constituent, Spencer insisted that Christian teachers were still “perfectly entitled” to express their views on same-sex marriage – but only “in some situations”.”

    I’d really like to know what those circumstances are. I can think of no scenario wherein a teacher, whatever their bias, should be expressing their own political and/or religious viewpoint on anything to a classroom full of children.

  12. dennis says:


  13. Angela_K says:

    We are not going to solve the problem of religious extremism by EDOs that I suspect will also be used to stifle criticism of religion. Already we have a one way street of free speech where religious extremists can preach their hate – in most cases without arrest, but in the case of islam, if you criticize it you’ll hear howls of “racist” or be arrested on trumped up charges; publish a cartoon and be slaughtered. We’d have to start with schools and make them all secular with no religious indoctrination allowed but with the vested interests of the religious and their representatives in the house of Lords, it’s never go to happen.

  14. Stephen Mynett says:

    On the subject of Islam, the Saudis are still trying to impose blasphemy laws around the world:–free-expression-is-an-abuse-of-religious-rights

    With the Saudis and Cameron’s EDOs anyone who has not taken a vow of silence will be guilty of speaking.

  15. Trevor Blake says:

    Barriejohn: thank you for your challenge. To clarify, I advocate freedom of speech and freedom of association to a fault. I do not advocate banning Islam. I do advocate blistering chriticism of Islam. I am discouraged that instead of blistering criticism of Islam I see criticism of other groups that are not as worthy of the same.

  16. barriejohn says:

    Trevor Blake: That’s a relief. though I have to say that I have come to the conclusion that ANYONE infected with the religion virus is actually incapable of rational thought and in danger of espousing the most wild and dangerous ideas. We are just lucky in the Western world that Christianity seems to have found an accommodation with progressive, liberal thought, but as one can see on the next thread regarding the Boy Scout movement, the apparently benign “Love God and love your neighbour” philosophy soon transmogrifies into “We hate gays and we hate atheists”. What would Jesus have said?

  17. Stephen Mynett says:

    Agreed about the incapable of rational thought. To me there is no difference between a Jehovahs Witness and a jihadist, both will kill for their faith. The JWs may not go out with AK47s etc but they are quite willing to allow anyone to die who could be saved by a blood transfusion.

  18. barriejohn says:

    Stephen Mynett: When I was with the Brethren I would constantly hear from the most kindly members: “It may seem harsh and cruel, but it’s what the Lord wants and it must be the best thing for them and us”, or words to that effect. That sort of argument was used to justify all sorts of nasty doctrines and practices, and cruelty towards members and towards their children in particular. When I first watched The Crucible it had a salutary effect upon me, and I still find it difficult today. I was always an easy-going, liberal sort of person, by nature, yet I could see myself at the forefront of those foaming-at-the mouth, self-righteous ideologues (not just supporting them!), doing what they believed “had to be done” to protect their community and save people from demonic forces. We are only ever one step away from that sort of madness, even today.

  19. Newspaniard says:

    Isn’t this similar legislation that the NI “justice” system is using to railroad Pastor James McConnell? Many countries in the world have legislation which makes it an offence to criticize (corrupt) politicians. It looks like we are getting that here.

    I have written to my elected representative requesting that this is not done in my name.