Philip Pullman had an opinion piece in the Times of London today to mark the Convention on Modern Liberty, a one‐day gathering of activists interested in civil liberties. Weirdly, the piece isn’t available at the Times anymore, and it has not been for several hours. Even the Google cache has been unreliable, though it’s up as of this writing. The vast community at BoingBoing has been watching closely.
Thankfully, the Libertarian Alliance seems to have the full text:
The new laws whisper:
You don’t know who you are
You’re mistaken about yourself
We know better than you do what you consist of, what labels apply to you, which facts about you are important and which are worthless
We do not believe you can be trusted to know these things, so we shall know them for you
And if we take against you, we shall remove from your possession the only proof we shall allow to be recognised
The sleeping nation dreams it has the freedom to speak its mind. It fantasises about making tyrants cringe with the bluff bold vigour of its ancient right to express its opinions in the street. This is what the new laws say about that:
Expressing an opinion is a dangerous activity
Whatever your opinions are, we don’t want to hear them
So if you threaten us or our friends with your opinions we shall treat you like the rabble you are
And we do not want to hear you arguing about it
So hold your tongue and forget about protesting
What we want from you is acquiescence
The nation dreams it is a democratic state where the laws were made by freely elected representatives who were answerable to the people. It used to be such a nation once, it dreams, so it must be that nation still. It is a sweet dream.
If the Times doesn’t want these words, I’d like to borrow them.