"..a bardy view!"

Bardiness 400- Speakers’ Corner……

Speakers-Corner-006This is my 400th Bardiness post.

In a democracy where the ballot box is the measure of freedom, sometimes the common man needs to voice his concerns beyond the electorate system. The internet has given a voice to the silent, and blogs have given a platform to the unheard. Those voices are all shouting now, and the noise is deafening.

Speakers’ Corner in London’s Hyde Park is a place where those with a point of view can stand up and express themselves. Some will get an audience, some will not, and some will get heckled. It has been designated a space for freedom of speech for over 165 years.

Anyone can turn up unannounced, and talk on any subject. As recently as 1999 a ruling by Lord Justice Sedley in his decision with a case involving the UK Director of Public Prosecutions, described Speakers’ Corner as demonstrating “the tolerance which is both extended by the law to  opinion of every kind and expected by the law in the conduct of those who disagree, even strongly, with what they hear,”

This ruling famously established in English case law that freedom of speech could not be limited to the inoffensive but extended also to “the irritating, the contentious, the eccentric, the heretical, the unwelcome, and the provocative, as long as such speech did not tend to provoke violence” .

That Right, accorded by Article 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights, also accorded the right to be offensive.

What is a blog then…if not a virtual Speakers Corner? A place where we can be “irritating, contentious, eccentric, heretical, unwelcome and provocative”, providing we don’t provoke violence or hatred? There may be many blogs inciting the latter two, but Bardiness stands by English Law, and the European Convention of Human Rights.

This post is an expression of the fundamental principles of freedom of speech. Bardiness may not be everyone’s cup of tea – but there are countries in the world which won’t even allow the leaves in the pot, never mind allow them to brew and be poured.

Perhaps in the future “Englishness” will become synonymous with “freedom”.  Archaic words along with lost Latin meaning  tolerance, courage, dignity and self-respect.

They say that every Englishman is born free. Living free however is a constant battle and something we must fight for everyday……

Freedom in death is freedom too late.

This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remember’d;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition:
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.

(Shakespeare HenryV scene III)

March 3, 2016 - Posted by | Arts, Culture, Education, History, Politics, United Kingdom | , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. Freedom of Speech is a VERY apt topic for such a milestone Blog Post. Congratulations on your 200th post – which reminds me, for some time I had an email whenever you posted so I could keep up with you and they stopped. Checking it out now….
    Your statement “A place where we can be “irritating, contentious, eccentric, heretical, unwelcome and provocative”, providing we don’t provoke violence or hatred?” really struck a chord with me today.
    Several times in the last 24 hours I have seen online comments where the writers have used “Freedom of Speech” to excuse what is, in my view, inciting hatred.


    Comment by AJ | August 3, 2011 | Reply

  2. Thanks for your comment AJ. I’m sorry you saw some unfortunate online comments. But now you can respond with “Article 10” – and tell them they breach it! The law may be a paper tiger – but even a pussycat has claws!


    Comment by Bar De Ness | August 3, 2011 | Reply

  3. My dear old chap, heartiest congratulations on your epic milestone and many, many more. As to Aj’s view on inciting hatred, I have lived through and witnessed this throughout most of my life. The funny thing is that those who used it most inciting hatred, were the ones who won. They then promptly disposed of freedom of speech altogether. It is my ‘considered opinion’, that the same old people are playing the same old ‘never ending game’? And if you happen to disagree with them why, you are inciting hatred.


    Comment by Spook | August 4, 2011 | Reply

  4. It is so important to do everything within our power to retain all of our rights, especially those of free speech. It is good to know there are those, all over the world, who value this most important right and will do all in their power to protect it for themselves and their progeny.
    Excellent history lesson for everyone.


    Comment by Margaret Schaut | June 26, 2012 | Reply

  5. Indeed, but, who if anyone is listening to or heeding it?


    Comment by Spook Moor | June 27, 2012 | Reply

  6. Popped for another look at this great read. I have yet to be heard, oh, lo, alas, but, hope springs eternal, even in my breast?


    Comment by spookmoor | December 1, 2012 | Reply

  7. Thanks for re-reading Spook. It’s nice to see older posts re-visited. For the record I’m 24 short of “Bardiness 300”.


    Comment by Bar De Ness | December 3, 2012 | Reply

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