Keep that woman's words away from me

By Stephen Pollard
October 1, 2009

Readers of my old Spectator blog might recall that there were two figures I couldn't leave alone, both equally ridiculous. One of them was the Yazzmonster, who is otherwise known as Yasmin Alibhai-Brown. For my sins, I used some years ago to share a BBC microphone with her on Saturday mornings, and I have never properly recovered.

Reading her Independent column was always good blog-fodder, but I vowed when I started here to ignore it. With the odd exception, I haven't read a word of hers, and the effect on my blood pressure has been good.

But I've gone and done it again, and instantly I am back to where I was all those years ago.

To wit: I've just seen her column on Monday (see, I really don't look at it usually). 

I will ignore the substance of her argument (if you can dignify it thus). I'll simply point you to the beginning, as the perfect piece of Yazzmonstering.

Freedom of one of the valves in Europe's heart that must remain
open to keep our continent alive and healthy. In good faith I exercise
that freedom in this column. Let us see if readers and interest groups
will support my right to write what follows even if they violently
disagree with my observations.

From past experience I bet many will find that
impossibly hard. They will denounce me as an enemy within, a
rule-breaker of unspoken rules, bringing up stuff that must be left
buried in the name of peace and justice. I see no reason to comply.
This week shows us how such doublethink and doublespeak pulls the world
towards Armageddon.

Do you see it? Before she's even got started she's come out with a pile of nonsense. She seems to think that when she writes something objectionable, and is met with criticism, that is somehow a denial of her right to free expression. She doesn't even understand freedom of speech. It doesn't mean the right to say whatever you want and be listened to with respect. It means the right to say what you want. It doesn't mean the right to be treated with respect.

So when I wrote - as I did - that when Ms Alibhai-Brown said on the Saturday after 9/11 that the US "had it coming"she was despicable, or when I lampooned her, or even when, now that I am an editor, I refuse to consider anything by her for publication (not that she has sent anything), I am not impinging in any way on her freedom of speech. I am simply excercising mine in response.

She doesn't seem to grasp that those who regard her as an idiot, or even as "an enemy within", have as much right to voice their opinion as she has to voice hers, and that in responding to her no one is removing her right to express herself as she sees fit. 

I haven't even dealt with her demand that America stop grovelling to “fanatic and aggressive” Israel, or that Israel may cause "the end of the world", and I'm already hyper-ventilating.

Please someone - keep that woman's words away from me.



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