British Home Secretary Jacqui Smith today released a list of 16 people barred from entry into the United Kingdom, a list which included radio talk show host Michael Savage alongside neo-Nazis and terrorists. Smith, saying it was a privilege to enter the UK, said those on the list didn’t conform to her country’s values and rules, and expressly singled out Savage’s “extreme speech” as incitement to violence.
Savage, for his part, has vehemently asserted that he doesn’t preach hate and violence, but “patriotic traditional values,” and says his lawyers are looking into legal action against the Home Secretary. His comments regarding the issue are worth reading, as he believes the banning for his speech says more about the British than it does about him.
I’m not going to turn this into a defense of Michael Savage or an agreement with everything he says or believes. I have indeed listened to his show, and while he is out there on certain issues, it is true that he doesn’t advocate violence towards anyone, just a vigorous defense of his own principles.
What I’m getting at is no matter what you think of Michael Savage or any of his past comments, none of it merits the complete banishment from a nation, and it certainly does not place him on a list with terrorists. The notion that he would incite violence within Britain is ludicrous, as in his long broadcast career, he or his comments, while providing heated water cooler discussion, haven’t started a single riot or one incident of violence.
The integrity of freedom of speech worldwide is severely undermined by this move, just as it was when newspapers around the globe were frightened into not standing with a Danish newspaper that caused Muslim riots after printing depictions of Muhammad. I am heartened by some of the comments on the British side that many there can see this as the idiotic move that it is. Here in America, Savage doesn’t attract many defenders from the left or right, but I’ll stick up for him here, and I hope you can agree that he doesn’t deserve to be barred from the UK simply based on his opinions and speech.
Update: Hot Air has weighed in.