Following the Day for Freedom, I came across a critique of the event by an attendee named Sebastian. Sebastian is a small ‘c’ conservative YouTuber that describes himself as a free speech absolutist, who felt that the demonstration was flawed on multiple levels and did not live up to its promise and potential. He was also critical of partisan reporting of the unfortunate spot of violence that took place. For the sake of future improvement and balanced journalised I reached out to him for comment.
Thanks for agreeing to this interview Sebastian. You have expressed some disappointment with the Day for Freedom event on social media. Could you outline what you think went wrong with the event?
Sebastian: The event failed to spread freedom of speech. It was poorly advertised to non-supporters because the chosen advertising platform was social media – an echo chamber. Only those who “follow” the speakers saw this – there were no posters around London, for example, to attract newcomers. Furthermore the rally did not have set aims or set means of achieving those aims: what petition were we supposed to sign? Which law did we want repealed? No new supporters, no action, and finally, no decent intellectual discussion.
And were there any positives that redeemed it?
Sebastian: The positive side was that those who came realised that they are not alone. However, the negative press from the violence means that many more potential supporters will now be alienated.
Many on the right are claiming that Mohammed Hijab and Ali Dawah started trouble, but the video evidence seems to show them behaving non-violently and being attacked by demonstrators at the barricades. Would you say there has been hypocrisy from some of the demonstrators/supporters making these claims?
Sebastian: I spoke to some members of the crowd after Dowah and Hijab were attacked. They certainly seemed pleased about the pair being violently silenced – but, as Mill points out, everyone is happy to use any tactics in support of their own side. Only the opposition get condemned for playing dirty, so I should not have been surprised.
Do you think the clashes are being deliberately misrepresented or is it a case of blind partisan bias?
Sebastian: The clashes seem to have been downplayed by the right-wing organisers (probably because they incriminate supporters). The Muslim side of YouTube has blown up about this; I believe their representation is somewhat sensationalised, but because they are using footage of the whole fight, it’s much almost impossible for them to pedal lies.
Finally, how would you like to see future events improved?
Sebastian: Future events need to meet 3 very simple goals:
1. Advertise to newcomers.
2. Have declared, specific political aims and tell the crowd what each of them must do to achieve these aims.
3. Disavow violence and the groups that instigate it. Whilst it seems obvious to us that free speech should be for all, idiots on both sides are always happy to see the other side silenced.
Thank you for your time