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Anorak | Max Mosley and the right to ask offensive questions

Max Mosley and the right to ask offensive questions

by | 28th, February 2018

Most of us have never met press reform campaigner Max Mosley (and I’m including some members of the spanking community in that) nor his father, the fascist Oswald Mosley who married Diana Mitford in Joseph Goebbels’ drawing room. She was a woman dubbed “Hitler’s Angel”. Max knew her as ‘mum’. My own ancestors living in London’s Stepney and Whitechapel did have a run-in with Mosley Senior a while back, chiefly when in his guise as leader of the Black Shirts, the aristo and former Labour Party government minister wanted to march his gang of booted anti-Semites through Cable Street in East London. The aim was to intimidate the local Jews. Back then lots of people who didn’t much like the Nazi-styled Black Shirts disobeyed the law by turning out in force, blocked the march and won the day. Officialdom did sod all to protect them. “It was a victory for the united people of the East End.”

Our bloodlines, however, have not crossed since. I know what I know of Mosley and his family by reading and hearing about them. Eventually, I might even form an opinion on Max from looking at the press, TV and books. “The questions raised by the desire to know are in principle all answerable by common-sense experience and common-sense reasoning,” wrote Hannah Arendt. We read a lot of things. We think about them, debate them and, through reason, try to reach the truth.

And today we get to know a bit more about Max Mosley. He’s back in the news. The Times says Mosley “is facing questions about whether he lied to the High Court after the discovery of a racist political leaflet published in his name”.

The 1961 document links leprosy, venereal disease and tuberculosis to “coloured immigration” and argues that Jamaicans should be sent back home. Mr Mosley, the former Formula One boss turned press reform campaigner, was questioned about the leaflets during his 2008 High Court privacy case against the News of the World.

Under oath, he said that he did not recall putting out election literature urging voters to send black people home. He also explicitly denied that any leaflets from the 1961 campaign accused immigrants of bringing leprosy, syphilis and TB, saying: “That is absolute nonsense.”

Confronted with a copy of one of the leaflets last night, he rejected the “offensive suggestion” that he lied under oath and appeared to question if it was genuine. “If it is genuine, it doesn’t reflect my views today,” he said during a combative live appearance on Channel 4 News. “This was in 1961. I ceased to have any involvement in my father’s movement in 1963.”

Here he is on Channel 4 news:

 

 

The part about Tom Watson is of interest.  The Deputy leader says a Labour Government would set up Leveson II and enforce state-backed press regulation. So much for a free press. The State will decide what is and what is not fit and proper for you to read. No need for reason when the State does the thinking for you. You’ll be free to think about other stuff, like ‘How the hell did this happen?’, ‘Isn’t it great that we all agree on everything’ and “Why is fake news now the only news?’

Spotting error is essential to solving problems and progress. Stymie expression – the right to make mistakes – and we are all isolated from one another and diminished. As the philosopher Karl Popper noted:

In spite of everything, and although we have had so many failures, we, the citizens of the western democracies, live in a social order which is better (because more favourably disposed to reform) and more just than any other in recorded history. Further improvements are of the greatest urgency. (Yet improvements that increase the power of the state often bring about the opposite of what we are seeking.)

 

Max Mosley racism

 

The story is on the cover of the Mail. It begins with a question. And for what it’s worth, I’d cede to Betteridge’s Law of headlines: “Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word ‘no’.”

The Mail focuses on Mosley’s relationship with the media:

He has bankrolled Labour deputy leader Tom Watson and Impress — the State-approved media watchdog which critics say opens the door to statutory control of the Press…

Mr Mosley has also pledged £3.8 million via a family trust to fund Impress, the controversial Press regulator which is underwritten by statute and supported by Mr Watson and the pressure group Hacked Off, but shunned by the newspaper industry which views it as a threat to freedom of expression.

The Guardian notes the response:

“It appears that the historical investigation pursued by the Daily Mail is yet another misconceived attempt to intimidate and deter me. I will continue to campaign for the vital reforms needed to protect ordinary people against the bullying of newspapers like the Daily Mail.”

In response to the leaflet, Watson told the Mail: “My views on press regulation are well known and have not changed. The views expressed by Max as a young man are not the views he holds now, just as the Rothermere family no longer uses its newspapers to support fascism.”

 

Max Mosley racism

 

And so there it is. A free Press is the right to report things people of power and influence don’t want you to know. It’s the right to cause offence. More power to it. And more power to anyone who can prove it wrong by establishing their facts as authentic and true. After all, our desire is to know the truth and therein become better.

PS:

 

If we are now all citizen journalists – something Jeremy Corbyn is keen to foster as he invites “non-journalists” from outside the hated mainstream media (see Trump. D) to ask him questions – will each of us with a social media account need to sign up to State regulation for our right to publish tweets and Facebook posts? A vibrant field of open debate will end when the State is the only one holding the mic.



Posted: 28th, February 2018 | In: Key Posts, News Comment | TrackBack | Permalink