Much debate has erupted regarding the recent jailing of British activist Tommy Robinson. This case is telling, not only in regard to the current culture in Britain, but also in regard to the culture in the United States, where many people are unaware of the principles that morally govern the situation.
On May 25, 2018, Robinson was arrested, tried, convicted, and sentenced to thirteen months in prison. He was arrested reportedly for “breaching the peace” by livestreaming outside the Leeds Crown Court, where a trial is underway in which twenty-seven Muslim men and two Muslim women are alleged to have raped, trafficked, drugged, and sexually exploited more than one hundred girls as young as eleven years old.
During his seventy-five minute livestream (which I recommend watching), Robinson mostly talked quietly to himself and his viewers about the widespread problem of Muslims raping children throughout England. He also spoke to some of the defendants as they arrived at the courthouse, asking, “How are you feeling about your verdict?” and noting, “You’ve got your prison bag with you.” Robinson stayed off court property, as by the letter of the law he was required to do. He gave the police no reason to arrest him.1
Even so, shortly after Judge Geoffrey Marson peered down on him from a courthouse window, Robinson was arrested allegedly for “breaching the peace.” He reportedly pleaded guilty to a charge of “contempt of court” for reporting information that could “prejudice” the ongoing trial, which is being conducted in three parts, the second of which was coming to a conclusion the week of Robinson’s arrest. Within a few hours, Marson convicted Robinson and sentenced him to thirteen months in prison for the alleged contempt of court.
If we look at the full context of relevant facts surrounding this case, however, we can see that the real reason Robinson was arrested and jailed is that he has spoken out vociferously against jihad, Sharia law, Islam-inspired child rape, and mass Islamic immigration into England.
Whether Robinson is right or wrong about any of that is beside the point here. People have a moral right to speak their minds regardless of whether they are right or wrong (so long as they do not incite violence, commit fraud, or the like). As Ayn Rand put it, “The principle of free speech is not concerned with the content of a man’s speech and does not protect only the expression of good ideas, but all ideas. If it were otherwise, who would determine which ideas are good and which are forbidden? The government?”2 (Alas, in the UK, apparently, yes.)
Nor is our present concern whether Robinson broke British law.3 Contrary to the utterly disappointing positions taken by Daniel Hannan and Nigel Farage on this matter, the mere fact that someone broke a law says nothing about whether his actions are moral or immoral, rights respecting or rights violating, worthy of support or of condemnation.4
Many laws throughout history and today—in Britain, the United States, and other countries—were or are immoral, many obscenely so. For instance:
- In Nazi Germany, citizens were required by law to turn Jews over to the Gestapo.
- In Iran today, citizens are required to report homosexuals to the Islamic government for punishment in accordance with Sharia law.
- In North Korea, it is illegal to criticize the government at all.
- In the United States in the 1850s, Northerners were required by law to return escaped slaves to their Southern “owners.”
- In 1955 Alabama, it was illegal for Rosa Parks to refuse to give her bus seat to a white person.
- In the United States today, it’s illegal to consume certain drugs that might enhance, extend, or save your life, unless the FDA gives you permission.
And so on.
Just as genuine advocates of individual rights do not argue that an “illegal” immigrant who has done nothing to violate anyone’s rights should be imprisoned or deported because “he broke the law,” so, too, we do not argue that an individual who engages in “illegal” yet perfectly rights-respecting speech should be jailed because “he broke the law.”
People are not morally required to uphold or obey rights-violating laws. And when someone breaks an egregiously rights-violating law (such as a censorship law) in an effort to expose an important truth (as Robinson has), he deserves praise and moral defense, not excoriation and legal myopics.
Of course, there are contexts in which it is morally right to obey laws that are morally wrong. For instance, generally speaking, it is morally right to pay your taxes, because refusing to pay them will land you in jail. But when a law is an obscene violation of rights, violating it may be perfectly moral or even morally mandatory.
In the case of Robinson, the law he (allegedly) broke—a law prohibiting him from speaking his mind or reporting about a trial involving Muslims accused of mass child rape—is a violation of his right to freedom of speech. If he violated that law, and if he did so because he recognized the fundamental importance of free speech and the rights-violating nature and grave danger of censorship, then he was morally justified in violating it.
We are not talking here about the right to smoke pot or to drive without a seat belt or to sell beer on Sunday. We are talking about the right to freedom of speech—the one right that stands between human beings in a state of civilization and human beings in a state of war against or enslavement to a rogue government. We are talking about the right whose recognition and protection constitutes the essential difference between the United States and North Korea. We’re talking about the last leg of a free (or semi-free) society.
We’re talking about that right.
Likewise, we are not talking about a trial in which the defendants are alleged to have stolen a car or defrauded someone or refused to bake a cake. We’re talking about a trial in which the defendants are alleged to have repeatedly gang-raped eleven- to eighteen-year-old girls for years on end—while English politicians, police, social workers, and journalists ignored or covered up the atrocities.
Because the horrors involved are nearly impossible to imagine, and because the nature and extent of the horrors justify the urgency with which Robinson has acted, let’s put some examples on the table to help us understand the situation. And because Robinson’s reasons for reporting on this particular trial include the fact that the UK government has tried for decades—and continues trying—to sweep the nationwide, Islam-inspired, child-rape epidemic under the rug, we’ll cite examples indicating that broader context.
The current trial in Leeds concerns just one of many (alleged) child-rape gangs (which the Brits euphemistically call “grooming gangs”) that consist mostly of Muslim men and that have been destroying young girls’ lives throughout England for decades.
As The Telegraph reports, in Rochdale several years ago, as many as fifty children were “passed around” and raped by a gang of Muslim men (euphemistically referred to as “Asians”).
One 13 year-old victim became pregnant and had the child aborted while another was forced to have sex with 20 men in one night. . . . [Another girl, aged fifteen] told police that she had been raped and provided DNA evidence from her attacker, however the CPS [Crown Prosecution Service] twice decided not to prosecute him. The 15 year-old’s abuse continued and at its height she was being driven to flats and houses to be raped by up to five men a night, four or five days a week.5
As reported by the BBC, in Oxfordshire, girls aged between eleven and fifteen “were drugged and suffered sadistic abuse.”
[V]ictims were plied with alcohol and drugs before being forced to perform sex acts. . . . [G]irls were tied up, burnt, suffocated, bitten, scratched and urinated upon. . . . [M]ost of the victims chose to take vast quantities of hard drugs to deaden their senses, particularly when they knew they were being hired out to a large group of men for gang abuse sessions that could go on for days.6
Douglas Murray elaborates:
The barbarism, which was carried out by local men of what is erroneously described as “Asian” origin, included branding one of the girls with an “M” on her body. The abuser’s name was “Mohammed” and the Mohammed in question wanted people to know that this girl “belonged” to him and as such was his property. . . .
[O]ne of the girls was drugged and raped by a gang of men. She managed to escape and hail a taxi which drove her to the care home she lived in. Staff at the care home refused to pay the taxi fare, so the taxi driver took the girl straight back to the property from which she had just escaped, where the gang then raped her again. . . .
Families of some of the abused girls related that they had tried consistently to raise the alarm over what was happening to their daughters but that every door of the state was closed in their faces.7
In Rotherham, as Helen Raleigh reports,
gangs have groomed, raped, beaten, and trafficked more than 1,500 victims, including 1,300 females (some were as young as 11 years old) for nearly two decades. The type of abuse seen in Rotherham only makes up a fraction of sexual exploitation in the U.K. More than 700 women and girls have been identified as potential victims of sexual exploitation by similar grooming gangs in New Castle in the North East U.K.8
Again, that’s just an indication. This nightmare has haunted and violated young girls for decades throughout England—from Leeds to Oxford to Canterbury, Liverpool, Manchester, Aylesbury, Bristol, Dewsbury, Keighley, London, Newcastle, Rochdale, Rotherham, Telford, and beyond.
What is worse is that politicians, police, social workers, and journalists have swept the atrocity under the rug. Why? Because they are afraid of being called “racist” (as if Islam were a race, and as if educated Brits couldn’t defend the fact that Islam is not a race but a religion if they put their Eton- and Oxford-trained minds to it).
In regard to the aforementioned child-raping Muslims in Rochdale, a former Labour MP for Keighley, Ann Cryer, explains that social workers and police ignored the crimes because they didn’t want to be accused of racism: “This is an absolute scandal. They were petrified of being called racist and so reverted to the default of political correctness. They had a greater fear of being perceived in that light than in dealing with the issues in front of them.”9
Maajid Nawaz (a self-described Muslim Brit) elaborates:
For too long in this country, we media—the establishment, society, the chattering classes, the liberal elite, whatever term you want to use—have ignored the issue of grooming gangs and of young, vulnerable teenage girls, who have been victimized, drugged, raped, and abused. . . .
Both the prosecutor in the Rotherham case, British Pakistani Muslim Nazir Afzal, and indeed the official inquiry into why it took so long for these young, vulnerable, underage girls to get justice—both concluded that fears of racism prevented us from coming to the defense of vulnerable underage girls.
“Fears of racism”—meaning that the state was scared that it would be accused of being racist if it rightly arrested and prosecuted British Pakistani—largely British Pakistani Muslim—men in their abuse of underage white teenage girls. And so, from fear of appearing racist, there was silence across the country—as multiple cases of grooming gangs [i.e., rape gangs] emerged up and down the country. . . .
If we hadn’t all been silent—if we had all addressed this issue head-on when it needed to be addressed, when it was time to address it—then the void would not have emerged for populist agitators to fill that gap. . . .10
[This] should have been the concern of every right-minded citizen in this country. Unfortunately, it takes a bit of courage to address something that people will hurl abuse at you for talking about. I know. On this show—on my own show, on the weekends—I’ve tried to book certain MPs to come on and address the issue of grooming gangs. And multiple times, they’ve had to back away for fear of the backlash. . . .
I just wish that those young girls had seen justice served for them as fast as the judge served Tommy Robinson. . . . It’s very easy for us to pick on “the bogeyman.” But, actually, the truth is that our silence over decades in this country is the real bogeyman.
That’s the real thing we should despise—our own cowardice . . . our conspiracy of silence.11
Whatever flaws Tommy Robinson may have—and my research reveals remarkably few—he has been trying to shed light on this atrocity, while the English “chattering classes” and “liberal elites” have opted instead to ensure that they are not called “racist.”
Douglas Murray points out that this cowardice is not limited to the establishment in England. It is rampant throughout the West:
Most of the press in free Western countries are cowards . . . most of our artistic establishment are cowards . . . most of our politicians are cowards. . . . [I]ndustries that spend much of their year in award ceremonies patting themselves and each other on the back for their bravery, stop when an actual act of bravery may be required. . . . [T]he entire liberal class of artists and writers and thinkers stop just at the point where bravery is needed.12
Tommy Robinson is not a coward. He speaks the truth about Islam, about Muslim child-rape gangs, about young girls who have been abused by sub-animals motivated by “the religion of peace,” and about cowards who refuse to acknowledge, much less stop, this life-destroying abomination.
For this, Robinson has been jailed for thirteen months, during which time he quite possibly will be murdered by Muslim inmates. (Reportedly, when jailed for an unrelated charge, Robinson was assaulted by eight Muslims who brutalized him and knocked out all his front teeth. According to The Spectator, “The only reason he didn’t die, he says, is because they didn’t have any ‘shivs’ [bladed weapons]).”13
One common refrain of alleged “justification” for the government’s silencing of Robinson is that the trial is being conducted in three parts, that the second part was just concluding when he was livestreaming outside the courthouse, and that his reporting on the trial could prejudice the jury and thus cause an unfair trial or even a mistrial.
This claim does not withstand scrutiny.
For one thing, as Brian Doherty points out,
jurors can be instructed, as they generally are in the U.S., to judge based on the evidence presented in court, not on something they heard some guy with a camera scream. Jurors apt to reach verdicts based on “but I heard a guy shouting in the hall he was guilty” have problems no amount of secret and draconian speech restrictions can solve.14
Some people (and British law) apparently regard jurors as incapable of following such elementary instructions—instructions that jurors in other Western countries follow every day.
But the claim that Robinson’s reporting could prejudice the jury is even more ridiculous than Doherty implies. In the livestream video for which Robinson was arrested, he doesn’t say anything about the defendants being guilty. He discusses the widespread problem of child rape at the hands of Muslims throughout England, reads names of and charges against some of the defendants in this particular case, asks the defendants (as they arrive at the courthouse) how they feel about their verdict, and notes that they have their prison bags in hand. None of this can reasonably be regarded as potentially “prejudicing” the trial.
Further, although under British law a trial is regarded as “active” and thus under reporting restrictions as soon as a suspect is arrested, many other British citizens and journalists who have reported on “active” trials by filming defendants arriving at the courthouse, naming the defendants, and asking them questions have not been arrested for breaching the peace or jailed for contempt of court or accused of prejudicing the trial.15
For instance, below are pictures of Max Clifford and Rolf Harris entering or exiting the courthouse for their respective sexual misconduct trials in England. Observe that reporters are all over the place—right there on court property—operating cameras, video cameras, and microphones. These reporters were not arrested, and no one claimed that their reporting would render a prejudiced jury, an unfair trial, or a mistrial.
Even more revealing, however, are a series of video clips (see below) that Ezra Levant put together, showing other British citizens and reporters, one year earlier, filming the same defendants whom Robinson filmed, from the same trial, with the same judge, going into the same courthouse. In their commentary, some of these citizens and reporters do not refer to the defendants as “alleged offenders” or “alleged perpetrators” as Robinson did. Instead, they refer to the defendants as “rapists.” Some of these commentators are not filming and reporting from the street, as Robinson was, but are filming and reporting while standing on court property—in some cases at the courthouse door. Some are not speaking with calm voices and asking journalistically appropriate questions, as Robinson did (e.g., “How are you feeling about your verdict?”), but rather are screaming at the defendants, calling them “pedophile!” and “child rapist!” as they enter the courthouse. Some of these (non-Robinson) reporters are not using a small camera or cell phone to video the defendants, but rather are using full-blown, large, mainstream-media TV cameras on tripods and large, bright-colored microphones. Were any of them arrested for breaching the peace or contempt of court or even accused of prejudicing the trial? They were not.
Before we get to Levant’s compilation video, I want to emphasize, as he does, that the point of showing these clips is not to imply that these other citizens or journalists should be arrested for “breaching the peace” or “contempt of court” or the like. The point is not that everyone who reports on these trials should be silenced. The point is that no one should be silenced—and that there is a clear-as-day double standard when it comes to Robinson. Watch the video, or even just a few minutes of it, and you’ll see.16 (Then be sure to continue reading below, as the most important points are yet to come.)
As you can see, not only have various other citizens and journalists done what Robinson allegedly was arrested and jailed for doing, but many have done it without the care Robinson exercised to remain calm, to stay off court property, and to uphold the presumption of innocence until proven guilty.
But the double standard gets even clearer.
On May 11, 2017, more than a year before Robinson’s recent arrest and imprisonment, The Sun, one of the UK’s largest, most widely read media outlets, published an article about the Leeds child-rape trial.17 The article includes a full list of the twenty-nine defendants and the charges against each, as well as fourteen pictures of defendants being escorted into the courthouse and of citizens and reporters on court property photographing, filming, and questioning the defendants as they arrived and entered. (Other British media published similar articles with full lists of the defendants’ names, charges, and pictures, too.)18 Here’s how The Sun reported their names and charges:
WHO’S CHARGED? THE FULL LIST OF 29 DEFENDANTS
The first group are set to go on trial on January 8 next year.
Amere Singh Dhaliwal, 34, from Huddersfield, West Yorks., is accused of 54 charges, including 21 charges of rape and 14 charges of trafficking with a view of sexual exploitation.
Dhaliwal is accused of charges against eleven different girls from 2004 to 2011.
Irfan Ahmed, 32, from Huddersfield, West Yorks., was charged with nine offences including making an indecent image of a child.
Zahid Hassan, 28, from Huddersfield, West Yorks., was charged with 20 offences including six charges of raping a girl aged 13 or under.
Mohammed Kammer, 32, from Huddersfield, West Yorks., was charged with two offences including rape of a girl under 15.
Mohammed Aslam, 29, from Huddersfield, West Yorks., was charged with two offences including rape of a girl under 15.
Abdul Rehman, 30, from Sheffield, South Yorks., was charged with seven offences including raping a girl under 15.
Raj Singh Barsran, 32, from Huddersfield, West Yorks., was charged with three offences including sexual touching of a girl over 13.
Nahman Mohammed, 31 from Huddersfield, West Yorks., was charged with three counts including trafficking a person for sexual exploitation.
Zubair Ahmed, 30, from Huddersfield, West Yorks., was charged with two offences including raping a girl under the age 15.
Hamzha Saleem, 37, from Old traddford, Gtr Mancs., was charged with three counts including human trafficking.
The second group are set to stand trial on April 16 2018. The trial is provisionally set to last for six weeks.
Mansoor Akhtar, 25, from Huddersfield, West Yorks., was charged with three offences including attempted rape of a girl under the age of 13.
Mohammed Asaf Akram, 31, from Huddersfield, West Yorks., was charged with 14 offences including four charges of raping a girl of thirteen or under and one charge of threatening to kill.
Wiqas Mahmud, 36 from Huddersfield, West Yorks., was charged with three offences of rape of a girl under 15.
Nasarat Hussain, 28, from Huddersfield, West Yorks., was charged with five offences including rape of a girl under 15.
Sajid Hussain, 32, from Huddersfield, West Yorks., was charged with five offences including rape of a girl under 15.
Mohammed Irfraz, 28, from Huddersfield, West Yorks., was charged with eight offences including false imprisonment.
Faisal Nadeem, 30 from Huddersfield, West Yorks., was charged with three counts including raping a woman 16 or over.
Mohammed Azeem, 31, from Bradford, West Yorks., was charged with three offences including rape of a girl under 15.
Zulquarnian Dogar, 29, from Huddersfield, West Yorks., was charged with two offences including sexual touching of a female aged 13 or over.
Manzoor Hassan, 37, from Huddersfield, West Yorks., was charged with four offences including inciting the sexual exploitation of a child aged between 13-17.
The third group are set to face trial on 3 September 2018. The trial is set to last for six weeks.
Niaz Ahmed, 53, from Huddersfield, West Yorks., was charged with three offences including sexual assault on a female.
Mohammed Imran Ibrar, 32, from Huddersfield, West Yorks., was charged with four offences including arranging the commission of a child sex offence.
Asif Bashir, 32, from Huddersfield, West Yorks., was charged with five offences, including three counts of raping a woman 16 or over.
Everton la Bastide, 50, from Huddersfield, West Yorks., was charged with two offences including sexual touching a girl of 13 or over.
Saqib Raheel, 30, from Dudley was charged with two offences including trafficking for sexual exploitation.
Usman Khalid, 29, from Huddersfield, West Yorks., was charged with three offences including assaulting a girl under 13.
Aleem Javaid, 27, from Huddersfield, West Yorks., was charged with two offences including supply of a class B drug.
Mrs Naveeda Habib, 38, from Huddersfield, West Yorks., was charged on one count of neglect of a child.
Mrs Shahnaz Malik, 55 from Huddersfield, West Yorks., was charged with one count of neglecting a child.
Were The Sun or its reporters charged with breaching the peace or contempt of court or prejudicing the trial? They were not.
But Tommy Robinson was.
We could go on, but the point is clear: The law was not applied objectively, equally, fairly. It was applied subjectively, unequally, unfairly. And the ease with which a judge can apply it this way is baked into the law by means of its utter vagueness.
As Brian Doherty relays,19 the NYU Law Review published an article showing that, in the relevant law, the UK’s Contempt of Court Act 1981, “both the definition of contempt and the extent of the public affairs exemption are unworkably vague.” Joanna Armstrong Brandwood, the author of the detailed critique, writes:
Wide discretion granted to authorities increases both the uncertainty for publishers and the dangers of selective enforcement. This has a chilling effect on free speech, and, not surprisingly, the amount of information published in Britain about the courts and criminal cases noticeably has declined since 1981. . . . From an American perspective, the British law of contempt unnecessarily and inadvisably restricts freedom of the press. While the media might interfere with criminal defendants’ fair trial rights, it also has an important role in securing those rights. According to the United States Supreme Court, a “responsible press has always been regarded as the handmaiden of effective judicial administration, especially in the criminal field.” The British law of contempt limits the effectiveness of the press as a guarantor of individual liberties, thereby potentially compromising the very values it seeks to protect.20
As Levant’s video and the other evidence provided above show, “the uncertainty for publishers and the dangers of selective enforcement” with respect to this law are on full and vivid display in the case of Tommy Robinson.
Importantly, however, the problem at hand is not merely one vague, non-objective British law. The problem is that various politicians, police, social workers, and journalists in the UK (and elsewhere) are hell-bent on silencing Robinson, who has exposed their cowardice, their coverups, and their complicity (via their silence) in, among other things, Islam-motivated mass child rape.
As Douglas Murray notes, “it is by now abundantly clear that every arm of the British state has been out to get Tommy Robinson from the moment he emerged on the scene in Luton a decade ago.”
The problem—as I said in 2015—is that any challenge Robinson presents is all a secondary issue. The primary issue is that for years the British state allowed gangs of men to rape thousands of young girls across Britain. For years the police, politicians, Crown Prosecution Service, and every other arm of the state ostensibly dedicated to protecting these girls failed them. As a number of government inquires [sic] have concluded, they turned their face away from these girls because they were terrified of the accusations of racism that would come their way if they did address them. They decided it wasn’t worth the aggravation.
By contrast, Tommy Robinson thought it was worth the aggravation, even if that meant having his whole life turned upside down.21
All evidence points to the fact that the British government has targeted Robinson because he is critical of Islam and of the government’s penchant for turning a blind eye to atrocities committed by Muslims.
Whatever anyone thinks or feels about Robinson’s views is irrelevant here. (For the record, I regard him as mostly correct and truly heroic.) Robinson, like everyone else, has a moral right to express his views so long as his doing so does not involve incitement to violence or some other form of (genuine) rights violation.22
If Robinson broke a rights-violating British law by expressing his views, then that “problem” is the moral fault of the rights-violating law and of the people who support it. In no case is the irrationality, inefficacy, or incompetence of the British legal system a legitimate excuse for violating anyone’s right to freedom of speech. The only moral purpose of government is to protect rights—and the one right that separates a semi-civilized society from a wholly uncivilized society is the right to freedom of speech. This right can never justly be violated.
Just as we cannot save the free market system by abandoning free market principles (à la George W. Bush), so, too, we cannot protect the principle of individual rights by abandoning that principle.
Tommy Robinson morally must be freed. Immediately. And everyone who understands the importance of individual rights, freedom of speech, and objective law morally must demand it.
Donate to Tommy Robinson’s legal fund here.