15th January 2021

Brexit… ‘don’t get me started’, as someone said recently. I’ve kept my views on Brexit, if not exactly secret, then fairly well hidden in Tyndale circles over the years and I probably oughtn’t to change, now. What about the situation in the US? It feels OK to express ‘anti-Trump’ views over here; even Trump’s most ardent fans on this side of the pond are beginning to express some reservations…

It would be much more difficult, in parts of the US, to come out and say ‘never Trump’. Apparently some Republicans would like to express their opposition but they won’t, out of fear of reprisals – against them or their family.

In this country there have been times when it’s felt quite difficult to express views on Brexit because of the opposite side.

Perhaps ‘Free Speech’ is always like this. There’s a cost to it. One mark of a civilised society is that it provides ways (institutions, news outlets, Hyde Park Corner, Question Time etc, etc) that allow people to say what they want and to be heard, argued with, even heckled – without being attacked or threatened. In some countries speaking out is enough to get you arrested, or worse.

One of the criticisms levelled at old-style preachers in pulpits was that they were ‘six feet above contradiction’. One of the problems of new outlets such as Facebook, Twitter etc is that they allow anything to be said but that mostly those who listen already agree. Perhaps the famous phrase ‘I may disagree with what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it’ needs enhancing in our day…

Michael Docker