As chairman of the Free Press Society, I am always pleasantly surprised when other initiatives emerge that has the defense of the free word as its focal point.
Unfortunately, the joy is often short lived, because when you take a closer look at the initiative, it is actually very few who actually turn out to have freedom of speech as the "defense of the most fundamental freedom". Most often, they have arisen from the resentment of a particular cause, which the promoters then seek to propagate and turn into something general that concerns everyone, while in reality they are not interested in the basic principle.
That is why I am also, for now, merely observing the new British association "Free Speech Union", recently founded by one of the most prominent English journalists, Toby Young. With the establishment of the Free Speech Union, he wants to counterbalance the oppressive Maoist climate, which he believes permeates the British institutions - both public universities, political and mainstream media.
The Free Speech Union must defend those who have been affected by this intolerant, cultural Marxist domination, and who have had their careers destroyed because they have said or written something that falls outside the box, or is in direct contradiction to the dogma of the cultural elite.
A good and fair thought, though one might note that it has occurred to him a little late, as all the while the cultural Marxists have ravaged virtually every Western European institution for the past 40 years. I am always a bit hesitant when prominent people - who have happily lived in wonderful co-existence with the cultural Marxist doctrines without lifting a finger for those who have suffered for their speech - suddenly “see the light”: it may well be that the scales have indeed fallen from their eyes, but I think I will still wait and see what comes of it before I get all excited.
Also, in the case of Toby Young and his Free Speech Union, which has now become open to anyone who wants to back it up, was initially thought of as a pretty elitist project meant for academics, journalists, stand-up comedians, writers, poets and others who "live by expressing and communicating ideas", as Young puts it in an interview with Sun Politics. It reflects a very odd approach to the issue of freedom of speech to make it an exclusive concern for the so-called elite - even if this "intellectual" elite lives by "communicating ideas": freedom of speech is for everyone - not the least for the overwhelming majority of people who have enough to do with earning a living and using social media (not least Facebook) as one of their most important information and communication platforms. Not least, all the thousands of people who get blocked or come into Facebook “jail” every single day because they have fallen into Facebook's random censorship - e.g. for mentioning Tommy Robinson's name.
And here we are at the litmus test of the Free Speech Union, because is Toby Young's organization not then under the obligation to deal with the most pressing freedom of speech issue in the UK right now, namely the single-minded attempt of the English elite to make Tommy Robinson a non- person in England? He is blocked on virtually every platform, barred from using Paypal, he is harassed by the English authorities and defamed by politicians, press and opinion makers – all for telling the truth.
Tommy Robinson should be the Free Speech Union's first and most important case, the case that could pave the way for so many other cases, but Toby Young has, as far as I know, not mentioned Tommy Robinson's name even once.
In contrast, he is massively upset that the English journalist and television host, Alastair Stewart, has had to resign from his anchor role at the TV station ITV after he (perhaps?) made an unfortunate comment on social media.
It is not because I doubt that the Free Speech Union has a worthy cause in the case of Alastair Stewart, but it is not as big and fundamentally important as Tommy Robinson's, and it reinforces my suspicion that the Free Speech Union is basically an elitist project for people who have so far proudly flowed with the current, but who are now squeezed and are therefore calling for a fight for their own.
So far I am not impressed.