The Guardian today castigated Youth Defence, an Irish pro-life group, for putting up posters around Ireland. It went so far as to criticise the Irish Advertising Standards Authority for failing to ban these ‘scaremongering’ posters. Surely the billboards must have been truly awful to persuade The Guardian to renounce its traditional position that the right to free speech is paramount?
To give The Guardian’s description, ‘the billboards show either a picture of a woman or her foetus symbolically torn in half above the tagline: “Abortion tears her life apart. There’s always a better answer.”’ So, merely a picture of a woman or foetus, with a supportive message underneath. Yet these billboards are, according to The Guardian, ‘cruel’ to women who go outside Ireland to have an abortion and should be banned.
Has The Guardian done a U-turn in their views on freedom of speech? Back in 2009, they declared in an editorial that Geert Wilders, the Dutch MP and, in their words, ‘racist provocateur’ must be allowed into the country for the sake of free speech. Most would argue that his views are rather more ‘cruel’ than those expressed in the billboards. Or has The Guardian just developed an unfortunate blind spot when it comes to free speech for pro-life organisations? A little consistency would go a long way.