Sam Bowman’s criticism of the Government’s attack on free speech features in The Metro

Deputy Director of the Adam Smith Institute Sam Bowman was quoted in The Metro arguing that the Government’s pledge to crackdown on hate preachers is both illiberal and a threat to free speech.

From The Metro:

Extremism crackdown ‘threat to free speech’

David Cameron has announced a crackdown on extremism, with powers to tackle radicalisation. The measures include new rules on immigration, restricting people who seek to radicalise youngsters, and powers to close premises that harbour extremists.

Britain must confront ‘the poisonous Islamist extremist ideology’, said Mr Cameron.

His measures will be in a counter-extremism bill in the Queen’s Speech this month.

Opposition MPs and free-speech campaigners criticised the proposals, with Liberal Democrat MP Tim Farron accusing the prime minister of ‘playing politics on the basis of division’.

Emma Carr, director of Big Brother Watch, said the government needed to outline what is meant by extremist’.

Sam Bowman, deputy director of the Adam Smith Institute, feared the anti-extremism proposals could result in the state being able to ‘pick and choose the ideas that British citizens can express’.

Sam Bowman criticism of the Government’s crackdown on free speech features in Bloomberg Business

Deputy Director of the Adam Smith Institute Sam Bowman was quoted in Bloomberg Business, arguing that the Government’s pledge to crackdown on hate preachers is both illiberal and a threat to free speech.

Sam Bowman, deputy director of the Adam Smith Institute, a research group, said the proposals are “particularly concerning” and could lead to people accused of preaching hatred being banned without trial from speaking in public or using Twitter and Facebook.

Read the full article here.

Press Release: May’s crackdown on hate preachers threatens free speech for all

For further comments or to arrange an interview, contact Head of Communications Kate Andrews: kate@adamsmith.org | 07584 778207

Commenting on the Government’s pledge to crack down on hate preachers, Deputy Director of the Adam Smith Institute Sam Bowman said:

The right to free speech cannot be conditional on what is being said. ‘Hate preachers’ may be bad people but unless they are making direct threats or incitements to violence – which we already have laws against – their ideas must be given the full protection of the law. That includes preaching intolerance. Anything less gives the state the power to pick and choose the ideas British citizens can express.

The details of these proposals are particularly concerning – people accused of hate preaching will be banned from speaking in public or using Twitter or Facebook.

These measures are almost certain to be abused as well – stop-and-search laws originally justified on anti-terror grounds are now mostly used to stop conventional crimes, and in 2008 it emerged that half of local councils had been using anti-terror laws to snoop on people who put their rubbish out on the wrong day.

We should hold these ideas up to scrutiny and challenge them in public debate, not push them into the shadows. With these measures Theresa May has crossed a line – if she pushes ahead, significant liberties will be lost.

Notes to editors:
The Adam Smith Institute is a free market, libertarian think tank based in London. It advocates classically liberal public policies to create a richer, freer world.

Is John Whittingdale’s appointment bad news for the BBC? – Sam Bowman argues YES in CityAM

Deputy Director of the Adam Smith Institute Sam Bowman argued that the appointment of John Whittingdale as culture secretary could be bad news for the BBC in the CityAM debate:

John Whittingdale has described the licence fee as being “worse than a poll tax,” and wants to decriminalise non-payment. That is a good idea: 10 per cent of magistrate court cases are for licence fee non-payment. Every week that means 3,000 people are fined and one person is jailed. Women make up about 70 per cent of convictions and half of those jailed. The BBC was never meant to be the £5bn behemoth that it has grown into. If there is any case for a mandatory public broadcaster at all, it is for one that produces worthy content that the market would not provide otherwise. But most of its budget goes on things like Doctor Who and The Voice, which the private sector would produce if the Beeb wasn’t. The BBC needs to be cut down to size, and the new culture secretary might be the man to do it. Whittingdale is bad news for the BBC – and that’s good news for the rest of us.

Read the full article here.