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The UK has released a list of various unsavory persons it will bar from entry into the UK. About half are muslim extremists, there are also some skinheads… and right-wing insane radio nutcase Michael Savage. Predictably, this infuriated him, and as anyone who has listened to his show (as I have often done, a sort of guilty voyeuristic pleasure) knows all too well just how ballistic he can get. He practically froths at the mouth and spews spittle on his microphone.

The man is a shock jock of the crudest sort, and unlike Howard Stern resorts to blunt force trauma in his verbal assaults rather than any genuine wit. His statements on Islam are typical: burka wearers are Nazis, the Qur’an is a “book of hate”, muslims should be deported, etc. He’s also insulted immigrants of all stripes, homosexuals, and even took shots at autistic kids. He’s a slimeball.

And yet, as the article points out, the value of the ban on him to the UK is pretty low. For one thing, he’s unknown in Britain as his radio show isnt even syndicated there, but you can be assured that a lot of like-minded Britons are going to be discovering his online stream now. And in a sense, Savage has a point: lumping him in with actual violent extremists is a form of slander. Whether he has enough to make a real case out of it or not is something to see; the ensuing drama and spectacle is going to be good for his business, though.

On the whole, I lean towards free speech as an absolute: confront bad speech with good speech, not censorship. This is a good case study of why trying to stifle hate can backfire. It was certainly intellectually satisfying to hear of this, but in the end it achieves nothing poositive and gives Savage even more of what he desperately craves, and needs, to spread his hate further.

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