by Neil Clark, RT:
I’m old enough to remember when David Icke was a television sports presenter. For the past thirty-five years or so he’s been putting his ideas out on how he thinks the world operates – and it’s fair to say he has caused plenty of controversy. Some people laughed at him, some agreed with him, some were indifferent. No one campaigned for him to be banned.
Recently though, that’s changed. Icke has been accused of “preaching hate” and of peddling “unsubstantiated conspiracy theories.” And now he’s charged with promoting “toxic” and “dangerous misinformation” about Covid-19.
Writing in the Observer on April 25, Nick Cohen berated social media platforms for not banning Icke.
Less than 20 minutes after he tweeted his piece, the “mysterious wikipedia editor” Andrew Philip Cross had added the article to Icke’s wiki page.
And, just a week later, both Facebook and YouTube had obliged, deleting Icke and all his work.
Cohen argued there was a “liberal” case for banning Icke. But there isn‘t and it‘s extremely Orwellian to suggest that there is. No one is forced to listen to Icke or read his books. If Cohen takes issue with Icke‘s positions, he should challenge him to a public debate. If what Icke says is so obviously crackers, then the Observer columnist should be able to wipe the floor with him very easily. Instead, he seems to want him silenced. That’s disturbing.
The silencing of views we disagree with puts us on the fast-track to tyranny. In chapter two in his classic 1859 text ‘On Liberty’, John Stuart Mill explained why silencing dissenting opinions is wrong.
Firstly, the opinion which is threatened with suppression may possibly be true. “Those who desire to suppress it, of course, deny its truth; but they are not infallible. They have no authority to decide the question for all mankind, and exclude every other person from the means of judging,” Mill wrote. It’s pertinent here to remind ourselves that Cohen, who wants to suppress Icke’s opinions, and sets himself as an arbiter of what views should or shouldn’t be heard on leading social media platforms, was a prominent supporter of the Iraq War.
What greater – and more dangerous – “conspiracy theory” was there than the one which claimed that Iraq had to be invaded because it possessed WMDs? But is anyone calling for Iraq War promoters to be banned? No of course not, they’re the ones gunning for Icke.
Mill goes on: “To refuse a hearing to an opinion, because they are sure that it is false, is to assume that their certainty is the same thing as absolute certainty. All silencing of discussion is an assumption of infallibility. Its condemnation may be allowed to rest on this common argument, not the worse for being common.”