Will Hutton defends press freedom by abolishing press freedom

This is casuistry worthy of a Jesuit:

No university worries that it is incorporated under a state-backed royal charter. Rather, a charter protects academic freedoms. A charter-backed Independent Press Standards Organisation would offer the same for journalism and the flow of free information. Accusations that this ends centuries of press freedom hide an uglier truth. The British press does not want to be the provider of trusted information for citizens in the public square: rather, it wants to be free to shape the square and the character of the information it supplies, with as little redress and accountability as possible.

That’s not press freedom: that is arbitrary press power. It’s for that reason I have joined a growing number of other writers and signed this week’s letter campaigning for better. So, I hope, will you.

Only by truly surrendering all of your worldly freedoms can you become free enough to properly love God. Only by submitting the regulation of the British press to the sort of people like Hutton that sit on the committees that regulate things can the British press become truly free to express what Hutton thinks the British press should allow to be printed.

To which I have a simple answer. Fuck off Willy.

And I say this as a fully paid up member of that British press. Here, sure, it’s a blog, a small one too. But here I am proprietor, publisher, editor and journalist, all in one. At other places (say, the ASI) I am simply a freelance but that is also a part of the British press. As is The Register, City AM, Anorak and all sorts of other places that I write at. And I ain’t gonna be regulated over what it is acceptable for me to publish. Not by the likes of you, fer sure.

And please do understand that I don’t mean fuck off in a vaguely waving a couple of fingers sort of manner. I mean you, your commission, your ideas and the horse they all rode in on need to go roger themselves until you expire from internal organ failure.

Capisce?

23 thoughts on “Will Hutton defends press freedom by abolishing press freedom”

  1. The British press does not want to be the provider of trusted information for citizens in the public square: rather, it wants to be free to shape the square and the character of the information it supplies, with as little redress and accountability as possible.”

    To be fair, I do think he’s got a point here.

  2. Re: BlokeOnMotorway

    So? Provided that they are not breaking the law, nor taking taxpayer money, then they should be allowed to be as partisan as their voluntarily paying customers are willing to allow them to be.

    Break the law and they can get dealt with under those laws; but until then the State can fuck right off when it comes to regulation. They have enough difficulty trying to regulate the one propaganda arm they currently have – why should they think they could do a better job with everyone else?

  3. …the provider of trusted information for citizens in the public square

    The BBC has a charter under which it’s supposed to fill that function.

    However, that doesn’t appear to succeed in making the BBC a trustworthy provider of impartial information.

    So no more charters for the media, thanks.

  4. As Will Hutton and BlokeOnMotorway show us, this really isn’t a spoof. There really are quite a lot of people out there who truly believe that if you make YOUR choices then you’re mistaken and so not really free. No, true’freedom’ comes from agreeing to make their choices.

    So BlokeOnMotorway. I clearly appall you, my tastes are vulger and my opinions revolting. Be free to think that. I will fight for my freedom to be vulgar and revolting AND to try to pursuade your kids to follow me.

  5. Definitely not a spoof although the post by Hutton and the reply by ‘Blokeon motorway’ would be worthy of the late Peter Simple. Always remember him making the observation back in the day that various avant garde Arts types always defended controversial programmes/ publications of a left wing bent as being designed to ‘make people think’. He pointed out that there was a word missing there – ‘Think What?’ For the likes of Hutton, the only thought possible is left wing, politically correct stupidity – there is no other correct, or indeed possible way of thought unless motivated by malice- hence these casuistic proposals….

  6. I have to say I’m emotionally somewhat conflicted by this. Opposed to any regulation on principle, sure. But hey, I’m a libertarian. Goes without saying.

    But the violin I play for “the press” is so tiny, you have to bend down very close to hear it. The reality seems to me that they are a grotesque shower of people, a monstrosity who have brought any calamity they endure upon themselves. They have used their own freedom, over and over again, to shape public opinion against freedom for others. I might most obviously mention the Daily Mail at this point; a more repulsive, nasty little rag is beyond imagination. It, and its ilk, have been handmaidens of the authoritarian, repressive, interventionist State we now endure.

    And they want “freedom of speech” on some basis of principle, having worked solidly to destroy it everywhere else?

    My violin, it is the tiniest in the world. Can you hear its plaintive squeak?

  7. IanB, your lack of sympathy may be partly justified but nevertheless it is foolish not to see the dangers.

  8. The Meissen Bison

    Johnathan Pearce:

    I’d go further and say that his libertarianism is to scale with his violin.

    I’m always wearied by the intellectual (is it in fact intellectual?) snobbery of people running down the Daily Mail who otherwise have pretensions to tolerance. It has a huge readership which should not be dismissed or despised.

    If any media have excessive influence over public life and perception, it’s probably because the political class lacks the courage and vision to face them down.

  9. The Daily Mail is a vile rag whose huge readership should be utterly dismissed and despised. There is no obligation to tolerate the repulsive.

    Nobody is obligated to buy the Mail. If they do, they willingly leave the community of decent humanity. That’s all there is to it.

  10. And yet The Mail gives a more accurate impression of the world than The New York Times, I’m guessing. And certainly than the BBC or Guardian. We’ll just have to live with its weaknesses.

  11. Johnathan-

    “The dangers” are already in the rear view mirror. Our freedom is already gone. And that was my point; the press who are jumping up and down about their freedom have been central to creating the environment in which all the other freedoms could be taken away.

    Besides all else, they long ago gave up any real scrutiny of our politics, in return for cosy relationships, lobby access and gossiping about the tawdry career machinations of the political class. They are at best, useless and, in general, part of the problem we face, not part of a solution.

  12. So IanB doesn’t like the Daily Mail, he feels its readers should be dismissed and despised. Yet his burning passion for liberty means he is about to come back on this blog and defend their right to read what they want and not what he calls the “community of decent humanity” thinks they should read.
    And on reflection he rejects the idea that “there is no obligation to tolerate the repulsive”, aware as he is that many people find the views he expresses on this blog to be repulsive. He will do this because he appeciates that you don’t really believe in freedom if you only believe in it for those with whom you agree. Because you’re not a prat are you Ian.

  13. @IanB ‘The Daily Mail is a vile rag whose huge readership should be utterly dismissed and despised.’

    Show trials?

  14. Ironman-

    Nowhere did I say that people should not be allowed to read the Daily Mail. I said that I don’t admire the DM, that I don’t admire people who support it by reading it, and that the press in general- in particular the likes of the Mail- have persistently worked to abolish other freedoms, and thus my sympathy for their predicament is small.

    It is a bit like some Soviet leader who himself ends up the victim of a show trial after being involved in doing that to other people. One can still disapprove of the show trials in general, while feeling little sympathy for that man, as he has participated in the system that has now led to his own downfall.

    Also, as noted, those who find my own views repulsive are entitled to say so, and often do. That’s that free society thing that Tim was talking about a few posts down.

  15. IanB

    Rather than defend what you didn’t write, how do you defend: There is no obligation to tolerate the repulsive.

  16. Well, because there is no obligation to tolerate the repulsive. As I said, when people find my mitherings repulsive, they say so in no uncertain terms, which is entirely their right.

    Likewise, in the unlikely event that Mr Paul Dacre wanted to enter some property of mine, I would refuse him entry. I would not tolerate his presence. I would encourage the community of decent humanity to do the same.

    What do you think I’m advocating?

  17. Contrary to Ian’s opinions, I truly like the Mail. And I’m very fond of its readers. They are normal people who have opinions. But unlike some of our more well thought of readerships, they don’t check their opinions against a style sheet of “What sort of person do i want people to think i am?” before forming them.
    Hence they’ll often have opinions, directly contradict other opinions. And the paper they read reflects their attitude precisely.
    Heaven preserve us from ideologues. But as Heaven isn’t much making itself felt these days, at least we’ve got the Mail.
    That said. i don’t often read it. Maybe I should, more.

  18. DM readers basically consist of two cohorts; those too stupid to realise what they’re reading, and those too evil to care.

  19. ‘IanB ‘DM readers basically consist of two cohorts; those too stupid to realise what they’re reading, and those too evil to care.’

    Bullshit.

    ‘Evil’? Fucking catch on to yourself, as the jocks say.

  20. “…you, your commission, your ideas and the horse they all rode in on need to go roger themselves…”

    Except they won’t, will they? Because they have the State behind them, and we don’t.

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