In what may prove to be the most depressingly predictable story of the year, we learn that Channel 4 has chosen to cancel a screening of Tom Holland’s programme ‘Islam: the untold story‘ tomorrow night because of threats to the author and presenter.
If there is a reason why so many stories and facts to do with Islam remain ‘untold’ it is simply because of this. None of the people who threatened Tom Holland even have to mean it — the threat is enough to ensure that Channel 4 don’t go ahead. I don’t blame them, and have seen this happen too many times, in too many different countries, to be surprised. Not all threats have to be taken seriously (the Tom Daley Twitter case being one such example), but when they come from quarters which have acted on such threats before then they should be.
Nevertheless what one might term as these ‘hard’ attempts to silence a discussion as well as the slightly ‘softer’ efforts to censor Mr Holland and Channel 4 (discussed in my previous post on this subject) are a scandal and I hope they receive the widespread disgust they deserve. The fact that extremists can stop a screening should be worrying to everybody who cares about our free societies.
But as I said before, those who are trying to stop this debate — even if they succeed for a short time — will lose in the long term. Such people are, essentially, Canutes — albeit dangerous ones. People who try to stop factual, historical, inquiry are shouting — often very unpleasantly — at the waves to stop. But the waves will not stop. They will continue to come roaring in, whether tomorrow night’s screening occurs or not.