The problem with freedom of speech: “An Independent Mind”
We are all in favour of freedom of expression but in reality it can mean different things to different people. At the Premiere for a wonderful new documentary the contradictions came tumbling out.
I was chairing the Frontline Club debate after a packed crowd at the Soho Curzon had sat enthralled and outraged by Rex Bloomstein’s An Independent Mind. The movie takes you through a series of portraits of artists and journalists who are fighting for the right to speak their minds.
And the coup de grace was the final interviewee. Bear in mind that Bloomstein’s reputation as a great British documentary maker rests partly on some stunning historical and investigative films about the Holocaust. “An Independent Mind” closes with an interview with the British historian David Irving who admits his sympathy with Hitler but denies being a holocaust denier or Nazi. He spent a couple of very unpleasant years in an Austrian jail because of his views. Bloomstein pushes Iriving in the interview but it is clear that he wants his views heard.
Interestingly, more people in the audience were upset by the inclusion of the Basque nationalists than Irving. But as Bloomstein said, we can’t exclude these views and opinions, we have to debate and defeat them in the open.
192 bit stereo