In Britain this week, a man called Nick Griffin was invited to speak at the Oxford Union Debating Club to debate "freedom of speech". (The Union is not part of the university, but it is a well respected institution with many student and prestigious members).
Nick Griffin is leader of a party called the BNP (British National Party), a far right party labelled "racist" by many, but such a tag ignores the fact that they have a full manifesto and their leader cuts a very good argument over the immigration problem in England.
Such is the opposition to the BNP that when Nick's invitation to the Union became public, heavy protests and lobbying took place in an effort to stop the debate. The Union put it to a democratic vote and decided two to one in favour of allowing Nick to appear. The Union representatives explained that regardless of people's opinions on the BNP, freedom of speech had to include everybody, or it was not true freedom at all.
The far left was enraged and several prominent figures publicly lambasted the group, one senior politician and life long Union member resigned in protest.
On the day of the debate, masked and hooded far left activists such as the UAF (Unite Against Fascism) group stormed the union building and staged a sit down protest. Griffin had to be escorted in with security and police to prevent violent attacks and even when he was inside, the groups outside staged a continual howling chant to try ad literally drown out the debate.
Needless to say, this was accompanied by the usual profanity, spitting and taunts that the far left always provide to any right wing political appearance. In fact all the events I have just described are a regular occurrence.
The irony of all this was that the groups that claim to be anti - fascist had done everything they could to bully and intimidate a legally registered politician to stop him speaking his mind at a debate on "freedom of speech" and when the bullying failed, they resorted to physical intimidation and vocal bullying, many of them wearing masks all the while.
This is the state of the UK now. The left have control. Tags such as "racist" are thrown around to silence people because in the UK, multiculturalism has become such a sensitive issue that it almost as taboo as any criticism of the Monarchy in Thailand. To be patriotic in the UK is considered by many to be akin to calling yourself a bigot. To voice concern for the roots and traditions of your nation is almost a crime in itself. The UK is on verge of being lost forever in sea of liberal "freedom".
How different to Thailand. In the Land of Smiles, a picture of the King stands in every building on every soi. Thai students sing their national anthem every day. TV shows remind us of the importance to be proud of Thailand and its history, and not doing so can indeed be branded a crime in some regards. Immigration is controlled tightly and the police have no qualms or fears about "racist" accusations when rounding up immigrants of any nationality. And as for politicians being accused of bashing foreigners, well let's just say it's unlikely to raise any mass protests!!! :-)
My politics change between my two countries. In England, I am a member of a well right sided party. In Thailand, I am an admirer of Giles Unpagkorn's political group and the PAD People's Party.
It's interesting to see how polar opposite cultures and politics can be when comparing two countries. Britain may be "further down the line" than Thailand in terms of democracy, but perhaps we have made some serious mistakes that others could learn from too. I hope the day never comes when Thailand has to deal with a far left group that behaves as disgracefully as those in the UK.