Paul A. Nuttall is a historian, author and a former politician. He was a Member of the European Parliament between 2009 and 2019 and was a prominent campaigner for Brexit.
A shocking report reveals that 40% of British adults would support the state banning books deemed to contain sexist, homophobic, or racist content. This paints a worrying picture for the future of free speech in the UK.
According to research conducted by public opinion firm Redfield & Wilton Strategies, a plurality of adults in the UK would like to see the government censor books that are judged to contain content of a sexist, homophobic, or racist nature. The basis of this valuable piece of research, which has been largely ignored by the UK media, was the polling of 1,500 adults of all ages.
Unsurprisingly, young people are the most eager supporters of more censorship, while the older generations are more likely to be opposed. The report shows that 53% of 18 to 24-year-olds would support the government's banning of certain books, but this is down to 31% for 55 to 64-year-olds, with 28% of that category being "strongly opposed" to more censorship. Proof, I would argue, that wisdom does indeed come with age.
Now, I am happy to put the opinions of the young people polled down to the naivety of youth, and as research shows, they will grow out of it. However, in advocating more censorship, they have revealed a clear lack of awareness, and an inability to put the banning of literature in its wider historical context. It also shows a failure to think beyond headlines, a character of the social media generation, where critical thought has been replaced by instant, knee-jerk, click-bait reaction.
I would ask those who call for more censorship in this poll, who will judge what is offensive and what is not? Is it going to be the government, or some politically correct quango of Lefties? London Mayor Sadiq Khan's statue commission? I would also ask, do we really want to live in a society where the guardians of wokery can tell you what you can and can't read, and therefore what you can and can't think? Sadly, from reading this report, it seems that this is the kind of society that many British ‘adults' want to live in. It is almost like they are opting to live in George Orwell's ‘1984'.
My favourite author is Rudyard Kipling. I adore his poetry, and ‘Kim' is my favourite novel. However, I am sure that Kipling's work would be banned if woke censorship was extended. Indeed, he already comes with a health warning, as English Heritage now has a disclaimer on its website. If these enthusiasts for censorship had their way, would I be forced to read ‘The Man Who Would Be King' or ‘If' under the cloak of darkness? Would the woke gestapo would come beating down the door for the reading of unauthorised literature? I certainly hope not.
The censorship of books has legal grounding in the UK through the Obscene Publications Acts of 1857. In the past 100 years, however, only a few books have been banned, yet all have been overturned. The last book to be banned in the UK was David Britton's ‘Lord Horror' in 1991, although that only lasted one year. The point I am making is that censoring books is simply not the British way. It is the stuff of totalitarian regimes: Mussolini's Italy, Franco's Spain, Peron's Argentina, Stalin's Russia, and most famously, Hitler's Germany.
Yet, as this report reveals, the British public are prime candidates to accept a similar kind of censorship. This cannot be simply passed off as the knee-jerk reaction of the mob. We have arrived at this point because the public has been encouraged to be offended by everything. Fake outrage news stories in the tabloid press are there for all to see every single day. This outrage has now been exacerbated by social media, which exists in a permanent state of offence. The consequence is that people would rather censor than be challenged by the ideas of yesteryear, regardless of how unpalatable they might be. We have become a nation of adult babies.
And that brings me neatly on to my final point, as attitudes regarding social media are another striking aspect of this report. It reveals that 62% of the British public say they would support social media companies censoring sexist, homophobic, or racist content. Now, I don't want to see online abuse, but the question I would ask is: who is to be the judge and juror of what is sexist, homophobic or racist? Is it to be the same tech giants who have banned a former president of the United States yet give a platform to criminals and tinpot dictators all over the world? If so, then you can count me out on that one.
There is a lot in this report to digest, and I cannot believe it has been ignored by the UK mainstream media. Indeed, its findings are deeply disturbing. The research reveals just how the British public have been wired to not only accept censorship, but how they are being conditioned to call for it.
I would argue that this is precisely what the cultural nihilists have wanted all along: a society where history means nothing. Indeed, Chairman Mao and Islamic State come to mind. Moreover, we have seen where the banning of books has led to before, and it's never pretty. No one wants to see young ideologues lobbing state-censored books on a bonfire ever again, whether that be physically in the case of the Nazis, or metaphorically in the case of the wokeys.
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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.