12 May 2018

Fight racists without trashing civil liberties

Fight racists and racism, but taking away their civil and human rights is no solution.

A number of instances have come to light in which people in private online conversations have had their comments used to justify public sanctions against them. The illicit remarks have become public because a bone fide recipient has betrayed the privacy - or in a few cases the user’s device or account has been hacked

The bulk of existing cases involve instances of racism.

I am in two minds about this. On the one hand, I don’t want racists in positions of power in society - and certainly not as members of the Labour Party and other progressive organisations. Yet, I feel that participants in private conversations have the right to privacy, however vile their opinions and comments, and that right is something that the Left would do well to protect, if only in its own interests. In addition, while we rightly struggle to prevent racists wielding social influence, I would not deny them the right to make a living merely on account of their private opinions (or ‘jokes’).

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