Here are three people who were in the headlines recently, connected with proposals for banning the rights of others, or being banned themselves
Hold off for the moment on whether these three people are demagogues. I want to concentrate on a different point.
Trump and Hopkins
Each of these individuals has attracted attention for widely-publicized views which have triggered strong emotional reactions for and against them and their advocates.
‘The Donald’ has skillfully drawn attention to his Presidential campaign. His views trigger reactions of all kinds from revulsion, humour, to wide enthusiasm towards some perceived as a strong leader. The most recent call for a ban on all Muslims from entry into the United States is for some bizarre, unworkable, unethical, and stupid.
Katy Hopkins has been recognized by Trump for her journalistic work supporting him against his detractors.
An illustrative example of the mutual admiration between them came in in a broadcast interview with the Daily Politics programme. It seems that in her newspaper column she uses Trump’s call to ban Muslims to advance an overlapping set of beliefs.
She concedes the proposed banning is unworkable, but maintains Trump’s heart is in the right place in trying to do something about what they both believe to address ‘the Muslim problem’.
Tyson Fury, newly crowned boxing champion has expressed himself in terms designed to hit the headlines by infuriating some groups he disparages. It is not clear whether he, unlike Mr Trump or Ms Hopkins, is attempting to manipulate the press or whether he is being used by them
Petitions pile up
One petition that gained support called for the banning of Trump from entering the UK for his schemes to ‘deal with’ Muslims (ban them entry to the United States) and with Mexicans (ban them entry into the United States by building a very big wall).
Another petition wanted to ban Tyson Fury from being a candidate on the BBC Sports Personality of the Year.
Hopkins, in a somewhat frenzied TV interview, mentioned a third petition which she claims has been deliberately ignored through BBC bias because it showed support for Trump’s proposal of a ban on Muslims entering the United States.
The Case against banning: the unintended consequences argument
Where to begin? The pragmatic position is that any proposed ban should be scrutinized for unintended consequences. Metaphorically, ‘don’t turn him or her into a martyr’.
The Case against banning: The moral dilemmas
There are various ethical dilemmas to consider. Claims about depriving people of their human rights are rarely without dilemmas. Should the State exercise its right to kill killers?
Or silence those opposed to free speech for security reasons.
The right to give offense
Another thought-provoking idea. I you take freedom of speech argument taken to one of its less logical conclusions you find yourself supporting banning and restricting a fundamental human freedom of speech to those who are believed to threaten a similar basic human right in others.
Think carefully, dear leaders, before supporting banning persons as a matter of principle.