A newer, better version of the Free Speech Union?
The Campaign for Common Sense is launching a fresh assault on cancel culture
A great many interesting stories got buried by the meltdown over Dominic Cummings’ childcare arrangements. One such was the launch by Bedford Free School founder Mark Lehain of the Campaign for Common Sense, a new body pushing back against the encroachment of identity politics into public life.
Writing in ConservativeHome, Lehain argues that:
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Lehain’s initiative follows on the heels of the recent launch by another former Free School founder, Toby Young, of the Free Speech Union, a body that seeks to defend people who have been deplatformed or otherwise cancelled for expressing the ‘wrong’ views. But the two initiatives show some intriguing differences. Young’s organisation has a libertarian flavour, describing itself as ‘non-partisan’ and arguing on its home page not for any value set in particular but rather that “free speech is the bedrock on which all our other freedoms rest”.
Lehain, on the other hand, has led not with the negative freedom to say whatever we like but with polling calculated to show consensus views across the country, and how they diverge from the ‘official’ morality of identity politics. This might seem trivial but might in fact represent a more significant challenge to ‘cancel culture’ than Young’s effort.
The Free Speech Union, while it claims to challenge identity politics, fails to escape its core premise: a radically individualistic assessment of human society. For both Young and the identitarians the FSU opposes, there’s no common good — only Young’s freedom to say what you like, or the identity-politics freedom to be what you like.
The Campaign for Common Sense, on the other hand, argues that “there are some truths shared by the overwhelming majority in society, [which] should form the basis of interactions and decision-making” but that this shared value-set “has found itself pushed aside by a vocal activist minority”. The campaign’s polling appears to back this assertion up across age, sex, political preference and socioeconomic group.
When the Free Speech Union launched, I found myself wondering if it would defend anyone whose free speech was infringed, regardless of how inimical those views might be to a majority sense of the common good. When members of a far-Right group were arrested for posting stickers blaming migrants for coronavirus, Young tweeted in their defence, suggesting that this is at least possible.
But a campaign founded on a majoritarian approach to public ethical norms can’t be this absolutely relativistic. ‘Common sense’ is always going to conclude that some views are beyond the pale. In this sense, the CCS is less a ‘moderate’ version of the Free Speech Union than it is a competing paradigm: one that recognises that society as a whole contributes to determining public ethical norms, and to policing the boundaries of those norms.
In aligning itself with majority common-sense UK opinion, it’s thus conceivable that the CCS could find itself at odds with either the FSU, or the forces of ‘cancel culture’ — or both. By explicitly making the determination of acceptable values a majoritarian activity, it’s a radical challenge to the idea that no one has the right to question someone else’s morals. If it gains traction, the population could find itself both freer to express commonly-held views — and, potentially, also less free to express those which push normative political boundaries.
A ‘Campaign For Common Sense’ is patently absurd because one person’s common sense is another persons’s madness. The Free Speech Union however, is necessary, because free speech is an absolute and unless you are inciting violence you should be able to say anything you like, be it holocaust denial or the call for a caliphate in Britain.
Couldn’t agree more. Philosophers have been struggling to find a moral basis in science and failed to do so. See recently published ‘Science and the Good’
Consensus (sic) by Twitter seems to be operating now, god help us if it becomes the established way of deciding key issues.
As uncomfortable as it may seem freedom of speech is the only principle to strive for.
The only vision that Obama appeared to see was one where America was deliberately divided a long racial lines, and where the IRS, the FBI, CIA etc was used to pursue political opponents, including spying on an opposition political campaign, lying to a VIS A court to obtain permission to spy on people associated with that campaign, you name it.
Obama never wasted an opportunity to jump in on incidents where an African-American was a shooting victim, without waiting to find out the facts, and to inflame the situation.
Voting for Trump was a rejection of the status quo, and that included Republican presidential candidates. He’s not perfect, far from it, but people are fed up with being lied to, with candidates making election promises then either immediately dropping those promises, or doing the opposite. Trump has followed through on many campaign promises, despite the constant blocks put in his way, mainly by highly political ninth circuit judges exceeding their authority.
As for Republican states not locking down their citizens versus the Democrat-run states, I suggest you look at the statistics on CV19 deaths, especially in nursing homes, where it was deliberate policy of many Democrat governors to mandate that the nursing homes take in potential CV19-positive elderly patients. Governor Cuomo even threatened to remove the licenses and close homes that refused.
Covid-19 is hitting Democratic states harder than Republican ones
I applaud the ideas and concerns behind the CSU.
‘Common sense’ versus the old idea that ‘he (sic) who shouts loudest gets heard the most’
Shame about the name. Common sense is not a neutral entity; it can be shaped and altered by those with access to media and power.
( see Stephen Lukes)
The moral panic in the late ’60’s was a prime example of an idea
( about the connection between race and crime) being underpinned by a common-sense derived from peoples’ unchallenged ideas built on unreliable anecdotes
The woke have taken the wrong lesson from the observation that housework etc are not represented adequately (or at all) in the financial economy. Instead of acknowledging that not everything is readily reduced to financial equivalence, the woke want to financialise everything.
A similar error is made by those who think that GDP represents the economy, and that growth in this number is an indication of economic health.
Some examples demonstrate the above fallacies.
(1)When a hurricane destroys a town, the rebuilding activity is counted as an uptick in GDP. What about the capital destroyed by the hurricane?
(2) When the government makes a new regulation or accounting rule, the extra fees enterprises pay to advisors and accountants counts as an uptick in GDP. What about the waste of the entrepreneurs time and resources on compliance at the expense of investment in something productive?
(3) When a daycare centre started charging a “fine” for parents who were late in picking up their children, the number of late pickups actually increased! By trying to put their inconvenience into financial terms, the daycare centre had removed the personal value of good will and consideration for others from the equation. The parents no longer felt obliged to minimise the inconvenience to the day-carers because they could now prioritise their own convenience for a monetary fee.
Finance works best when it can be equated to material things. Its application to other areas of human interaction is more complex. Paradoxically, the left is especially prone to material reductionism.
“You think Chloroquine might be a good treatment?”
No, but I think Hydroxychloroquine, a very different drug, might be a good treatment, mainly because lots of doctors think so. And I did not vote for President Trump.
”Common sense’ is always going to conclude that some views are beyond the pale’.
In other words, this new body will be just as much of a canceller as the wokeflakes. Give me Toby any day.
Justin regurgitates the nonsensical cliche that conservatives are science-denying, uneducated dupes, when it is leftists who consistently display their failure to acknowledge any scientific data that doesn’t forward their ideological goals, along with a lack of understanding of what the term “science” even means. Leftists tend to be overschooled, that is, indoctrinated from kindergarten through graduate school, yet undereducated. They are the definition of groupthink.
He assumes Biden will be elected in November.
He includes Obama on a list of great presidents.
He has no credibility.
The Lancet study is disappointing news. However, the numerous reports by clinicians–that their patients who are treated with HCQ have better outcomes and shorter disease courses–usually specify that adding zinc to the treatment plan is vital. Since there is a scientifically explicable reason why zinc may be a necessary component of treatment, it’s even more disappointing that such a large study did not use zinc at all. Of course that doesn’t mean that zinc “works,” just that it seems necessary to include it in more studies.
I can’t see why UK government doesn’t agree with Mr Chivers. Sounds like commonsense but we can check it. Equally the US stats appear to contradict ours. My feeling is neither really work well enough to warrant the expense yet. But a trial won’t really help as the virus is on the wain. It’s strong in care and hospital situations that’s the problem to solve
I have been wrestling with those who do not understand the concept of ‘volunteering’ for some time now, but hadn’t made the connection with ‘woeness,’ so thank you for clarifying this. I have been told, ‘You can’t expect people to do something for nothing,’ ‘we wan’t to get away from the middle class do-gooder image of volunteers (highly offensive to those I know who would regard themselves as staunch working class stock, but who have always volunteered) and now the buzzword is ‘social capital,’ which seems to boil down to a Council sponsored version of what used to fall into one of the Local Currency/ Barter schemes (which my Accountant husband rather cynically reckoned to be a form of tax evasion!)
The stickers you refer to as blaming migrants for coronavirus said “Open border, virus disorder” and “Pubs closed, borders open”. The second is palpably true (and will be until 8 June when the Govt somewhat bizarrely imposes its quarantine), the second is somewhat more incoherent but doesn’t specifically blame anyone. The fact that people could be arrested for this is outrageous and should engage the attention of any civil liberties campaigner who actually believes in civil liberties
“Many presidents have been great and visionary: FDR, JFK, Reagan, Obama.” Obama? The man responsible for the most tepid American recovery from a recession ever? The man who broke up Libya, Syria, Ukraine and arguably the European Union? I remember JFK; I admired JFK; Obama was no JFK.
I cannot say I really understand this article. Free speech is just that, free, it doesn’t need any qualification. Common sense is a subjective term whereas being free to speak as one wishes is not.
There is nothing ‘well meaning’ about the initiatives Lehain refers to. They are sinister and determined attempts to reshape our society into an awful dystopia. As such, they must be resisted.
Anyone who is optimistic about the future of America is an optimist indeed. From this side of the pond it looks as if it is in deep, deep trouble, no longer a functioning democracy. Truth, rational thought and facts are trampled on daily. No-one is trusted, everyone bitterly attacked by others. Trump, who lost the popular vote but still got in, and seems to lie for a living, looks more like his North Korean friend with every passing day.
I have many American friends and I weep for them.
I second Mr. Chivers’ two predictions, though for reasons probably quite different from his. When one drug cost $1,000 a dose and the other 63 cents a dose there are no prizes for guessing which is likely to attract the better systemic reviews in journals. Reviews by actual doctors using a drug are quite a different matter, and they overwhelmingly favour Hydroxychloroquine.
I do hope that Justin is not the only person from the media to perhaps realise the dangers its obsession with retrospective blaming and manipulating the public into warped views of life has. I have never in my life lived in such a cauldron of misinformation and hate. Where is there any encouragement to respect opInIons that you don’t share, work towards a better future or even to stick to the truth.
If we don’t become more reasonable and moderate the first step to anarchy- crazy one eyed people looking for an end game – will have been taken. And I know where the blame lies on this occasion.
Any views on the incredibly low CFR in Belarus? Are they just falsifying death certificates or could the Chernobyl accident decades ago have provided something helpful now? I suspect it is the former, but should not rule out the latter without evidence.
I have a question : a friend of mine had contracted Covid 19, symptoms were severe , but she immediately took the Chlorine Dioxide ( activated sodium chloride) remedy and after two days the fever had subsided and in 3 days started recovering , is fine now. I have also been taking it in very low dose preventively , and have not caught it despite having unknowingly been in contact with 4 people who got it and fell ill. I am aware that this is an alternative remedy of no scientific proof , but it worked for me and others I know . Would it be wrong to suggest it to people ? It needs to be taken very diligently under strict protocol because it can be dangerous. I never had side effects when used in the past to fight infections , flu and al.
Why can’t a country of 330m people find just 2 who are fit to compete to run it? Hillary was corrupt and Trump incompetent what a choice! And 4 years on the best the Dems can do is Biden!
Is “Pubs closed _ borders open” really the kind of statement that Mary finds absolutely beyond the pale? If so, she has an authoritarian streak in her I never would have suspected.
“Pubs closed _ borders open” is a statement of fact. What makes you think Mary Herring considers it beyond the pale? She only cited it as an example of a case in which the FSU and the CCS might find themselves in disagreement.
Both Young’s thing and this new one are obvious grifts: get on social media (or here on Unhinged), rile up the base(d), watch the donations come in. You can’t con an honest man, as they say.
I’m grateful to Mark Lahain, Toby Young and the likes of Peter Hitchens, Melanie Phillips and others for leading the push back against the identarians.
But it’s our legislators amending or repealing the crazier woke inspired laws which will save us from total moral chaos.
Also we could do with fewer cultural Marxists and more sane and balanced people in the media and in the university faculties
Thank goodness we have individuals and groups willing to stand up against the woke tyranny, all the anti-democratic ranting the woke bullies participate against the majority of society.
can somebody please explain to me what the word “woke” means. I spend most of my life on the left and I have yet to meet someone who so describes themselves. The same actually applied to “Politically Correct”
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