Run That By Me Again?
There’s a lot of ‘How’s That Again?’ at the moment. There is the half-laughable half-weepable mess of the ‘March for Free Expression’ ha ha for instance. The ‘March for Free Expression’ which had to be renamed at the last minute the ‘March for Free Expression Only as Long as the Free Expression in Question Doesn’t Irritate Anyone Too Much’ – which, you have to admit, is a pretty lame halting stumbling weak-kneed shambling unimpressive unstirring sort of march. More like a ‘Keep on Lying Down for Thoroughly Hedged “Free” Expression’ than a march for anything. You might as well march against a war and have on all the banners ‘Unless You Really Really Want to Of Course’. You might as well march for workers’ rights and add ‘Unless it’s too expensive that is’.
You did see what happened, right? On Thursday, two days before the march and demonstration, Voltaire/Peter Risdon (and props to him for trying, anyway) said – of all things in the world – ‘No Danish cartoons, please’. Umm – okay, but then what’s the march for? What good is it to take a stand for free speech prompted by the cartoon fuss and at the same time say ‘No Danish cartoons, please’?
A lot of commenters at the site are very annoyed. And things at the demonstration itself got…peculiar.
Peter Risdon, an organizer of the March for Free Expression, initially had announced that he would allow protesters to display banners and wear T-shirts depicting those images. On Thursday, however, Risdon asked demonstrators not to show the cartoons out of fear their display would alienate sympathetic Muslims and give credibility to a far-right political group, the British National Party, which has used the cartoons as a rallying cry. “The principle of freedom of expression is used by some as a Trojan horse, as a proxy for racism and Islamophobia,” Risdon wrote in an explanation on the Web site. The decision prompted angry responses on the Web site – and at the march. “It’s my freedom, everyone’s freedom, to expose these pictures and encourage everyone to do the same,” said Reza Moradi, 29, a protester who identified himself as an Iranian who has lived in Britain for eight years. Moradi was later questioned by police after someone lodged a complaint regarding the “nature of his placard,” which featured a copy of the Danish cartoon depicting the Prophet Muhammad with a bomb in his turban, a London police spokeswoman said. After a brief, heated exchange with officers, Moradi left the protest on his own and then rejoined the demonstration later.
Someone lodged a complaint about the nature of his placard, so the police questioned him. Er – isn’t this where we came in? Wasn’t this rather the point?