...free to think freely


9th January 2019

Protest and abuse

The scenes outside Parliament in recent days are really quite disturbing, not just for those who work in the institution, but for all right-minded people who have observed them.

The right to peaceful protest is one we rightfully approve in our society, but what has been happening outside the palace gates is not peaceful and is not even really protest. Protest is about putting a contrary viewpoint, making disapproval of policies clear, possibly ridiculing the ridiculous when behaviour is inconsistent, whether with itself or the Public Interest.

What we saw and heard is none of those things; it is just abuse and intimidation. It expresses anger without reason, for the reason remains unexpressed. It is raw emotion expressed in a threatening manner. It is not in the Public Interest, and it is dangerous to public debate because, as one victimised MP put it, “They are trying to silence us.”

This is exactly the kind of behaviour the Diverse Diversity Campaign opposes. Bullying tactics are never the right way to influence public policy and should not be tolerated in the public sphere. Reasoned debate is the way forward, not violence or threats of violence.

It is unclear at present whether the Law as it currently stands permits such behaviour. If it does, that highlights the deficiencies of current legislation, which protects people against abuse only on certain specified grounds instead of protecting everyone against all improper abuse. It is why we would like current Equality legislation replaced with a Relevant Discrimination act, which protects everyone against unfair or inappropriate treatment, not based on defined categories, but based on the basic rights we all share, and our mutual entitlement to respect and fair treatment for all.