The right to protest in an age of irrationality

Mike McCartney

20th October 2021

Interesting discussion with my twilight Oxbridge group on these two video clips

Where exactly is the line to be drawn between the right to protest and the right to privacy?

We watched and discussed this video clip of Michael Gove being harangued by anti-vaxxers, or anti-lockdowners - whatever you want to call them.

Pretty fair to say that no-one in the room was a Gove fan, but there was a consensus that the treatment he received on this particular occasion was out of order.

Why? The debate was pretty much settled with reference to John Stuart Mill and the "harm principle". Taken from 'On Liberty': "no one should be forcibly prevented from acting in any way he chooses provided his acts are not invasive of the free acts of others".

This then led to discussion of why debate seems to have become so polarised, and what the implications are of the actions of those motivated to push conspiracy theories.

Check out this clip from Channel 4 News recently, featuring Steven Pinker:


As a student noted this evening, it's something of an irony that Pinker gives something of a call to arms to those capable of being rationale, as an antidote to the likes of the conspiracy obsessed clump that believe that Covid is some sort of hoax. We could call them experts. And that the person being attacked by a group that feeds on misinformation himself said, "I think the people in this country have had enough of experts".

Hey ho.

Mike McCartney

Mike is an experienced A-Level Politics teacher, author and examiner.

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