The Gatestone Institute
February 2, 2018
“If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear,” George Orwell wrote in his ant-totalitarian novel, 1984. He would probably have frowned upon the latest UK Government blueprint to create a regulatory agency that will ultimately strangle freedom of expression.
Scrutiny against “Fake News,” is undoubtedly a positive development. It means that at least people are questioning the news they are consuming. Yes, it is a problem that so much disinformation and misinformation exists. It is, however, a far bigger problem if they do not. The public’s resolve should be that disinformation is not combated by a regulatory body controlled by Government. Individual arguments, with evidence, is what belongs in a democracy, which can only survive if it is a marketplace of ideas.
If having a Government body decide what can and cannot be published – thereby creating a culture of both official censorship and self-censorship — is not enough to concern you, the briefest glance at what this newly created British body would consider “Fake News” should send you running into the street.
This new UK Government body would deem worthy of censorship “Satire or parody which means no harm but can fool people”. According to these geniuses, satire and parody are “Fake News.”
Satire often relies on mixing believability and absurdity — not necessarily to fool people but to point out serious problems in a more approachable way. This can be done to draw people’s attention to take a harder look at what they are consuming, or to make a wider political point humourously. The idea that satirical publications would be possibly removed and censored because people might believe them sounds disingenuous at best, and at worst autocratic.
It is easy to see how Governments might be tempted to…