Free Speech for SpinWatch!

Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens’ threat of legal action against Spinprofiles is an attack on free speech, and must be resisted. Meleagrou-Hitchens has worked with the Policy Exchange and the Centre for Social Cohesion (he is also Christopher Hitchens’ son).

The legal action closes down the SpinProfiles internet service provider, so for now the site is hosted here, though editor David Miller promises to have it back up at the old address soon. Send messages of support here

SpinWatch-Watch defends the right of free speech, even though we disagree with many things that SpinProfiles has said. ‘Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes,’ Gandhi said.


LM editor Mick Hume appeals for support

One of SpinWatch’s mistakes is that it does not support freedom of speech, itself. Instead they supported the libel action that closed down another radical magazine, Living Marxism, accusing them of ‘promoting themselves as the victims of “ITN’s deplorable attack on press freedom”’ and capitalising ‘on the poor regard in which Britain’s libel laws are widely held’. SpinWatch mocked LM’s defence of free speech, thinking it absurd to oppose ‘any kind of social constraint, legal restriction or other form of intervention’. 

In fact SpinWatch editor David Miller has never been in favour of free speech. When Miller and Greg Philo were defending themselves against charges of promoting the ‘Video Nasty’ panic, they protested at the ‘tendency to displace the argument onto the terrain of censorship’, noting that ‘the Left has tended to ally itself with liberals and libertarians in an anti-censorship position, while critics of that position are caricatured as “moral” campaigners’ (Message Received, 1999, p 26). On 5 September 1998 Miller and Philo wrote to the Guardian demanding greater regulation of broadcasting. 

Of course, the Glasgow Media Group, where Miller first worked with Greg Philo never did support free speech. The group’s policy proposals in 1977 were for state control of the media under ‘democratic boards’ on the grounds that broadcasting was in the hands of the powerful (Really Bad News, 159). 

Defending SpinWatch’s right to free speech does not mean that we agree with what it says. But we cannot abandon their right to talk nonsense without abandoning our right to decide for ourselves what is nonsense and what is not.


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