Challenge: Public Debate
As reported yesterday, we asked the Global Civility campaign to send a speaker to our rally, so we can have a civilised debate instead of a stand off, with rally and counter demonstrations.
Their first response was to avoid giving a direct answer, and instead to ask me to respond to the following list of questions:
Do you believe that the right of freedom of expression should include the following:I stuck to the point, though, and asked them to answer my question before we moved on. After a couple more emails, they gave this final reply:
1) The right to insult the Queen?
2) The right to divulge state secrets?
3) The right to incite racial hatred?
4) The right to incite murder?
5) The right to incite religious hatred?
6) The right to glorify terror?
7) The right to slander people?
I doubt very much that the demonstrators who will be coming to your march will be inclined to listen to our views, i believe that by coming out in support of your demo they are pretty much nailing their colours to the mast. I therefore think little will be accomplished by us sending you a speaker when we have 30 other odd locations on which to express our views that day.I answered:
If however you are interested in engaging us in a debate in any other forum, for example a university, radio programme etc we would be more than willing to oblige in sending someone to challenge your views.
Which of course comes back to what your views actually are, would you mind kindly answering our questions and a number 8 which was suggested to be today
8) Do you belive in the right to question the official record of the Holocaust?
Muslim Action Committee
OK, to summarise:I will of course approach the BBC and several university debating societies to see whether any are willing to offer a forum. As an aside, I can tell you that the list of seven questions above have been put to all the organisations listed in our sidebar. I have been copied into a couple of responses.
I have offered you an opportunity to put your case to the free expression campaign, and you have refused.
Instead, you have challenged me to a public debate, in a university debating chamber or on a radio programme.
I accept. I will make the arrangements. The rest of this discussion can wait until then.
The danger of becoming too involved with this group is that it can distort the appearance of this campaign. As noted last month:
This will be a march in favour of free expression, not a march against Muslims.So I'd just like to thank the Muslim Action Committee for helping to raise the profile of our campaign and making sure that people in 31 towns and cities we do not yet have the resources to reach will be aware of what we are doing on the 25th March. And now we will return to the main agenda.