Why the Tommy Robinson case matters

In my new life as an independent journalist and commentator, no story I’ve tackled has had the reach and interest of my coverage of the Tommy Robinson trial-that-never-was in England last month.

It’s understandable given how many of today’s most pressing cultural concerns are encapsulated in the case. Judicial activism, free speech, excessive immigration, media bias, and class divide: all of them are central to what’s happened to Robinson, and how it’s been covered (or not covered, such as the case may be.)

Bob Metz and Robert Vaughan of Just Right Media have been covering many of these issues for years, and graciously invited me back to their program to discuss what I learned and uncovered in England, and how this case fits into the work I’m doing on immigration and constitutional liberties with the True North Initiative.

If you’ve followed the Robinson case extensively you’ll be a bit bored with the opening few minutes of the case, where I recap the backstory before getting into the meat. But do stick through it, as it’s an hour of great discussion about key issues facing western society.

Listen to the interview in full here.

Free Speech at Sea: Andrew Lawton on the Mark Steyn Show

Mark Steyn and I have completed our Freaky Friday role reversal. Just a few weeks after he and I sat down for a full-length interview for True North Initiative, it was my turn in the hot seat, joining singer-songwriter Tal Bachman and author Kathy Shaidle on a free speech edition of the Mark Steyn Show, filmed in front of a live audience aboard the maiden Mark Steyn Cruise.

From Tal’s background as a successful musician, Kathy’s as a published poet, and my own navigation of the world of media and politics in Canada, there was a general understanding that the threats to free speech are coming about from within the cultural sphere and not just from statist forces.

It was a great pleasure to be on the panel, so I hope you’ll enjoy watching.

NDP makes brazen pitch for censorship

As time passes, the fringe becomes mainstream. This is happening with efforts of the rabid anti-free speech Antifa types, who now seem to have an ally in a federal political party in Canada. The NDP has adopted the position that former White House advisor Steve Bannon should not be allowed to participate in a debate scheduled tonight in Toronto.

It shows how unserious the NDP really is, but that doesn’t mean it’s brazen opposition to free speech isn’t a serious problem.

I tackle this in my latest Loonie Politics column, which subscribers can read here. If you aren’t a subscriber already, use promo code ‘Lawton’ for a discount.

Here’s an excerpt:

Allowing these ideological clashes to happen is paramount for any free society to be able to challenge its paradigm.

Far too many people don’t want this or any other contentious debate to go on.  Since Munk Debates announced the Bannon-Frum square-off, self-styled anti-fascist groups have tried to get it shut down.  These calls became far less fringe when NDP member of parliament Charlie Angus said this week that Bannon’s invitation should be cancelled “out of respect” for the victims of last weekend’s horrific synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh.

So far as I know, Bannon had nothing to do with the attack and wasn’t even in Pennsylvania at the time, but somehow his presence in Toronto would be disrespectful to the families of slain Jewish worshippers, Angus says.

An NDP spokesperson told CBC that Angus’ comments reflect the party’s position.

I suspect the NDP’s stance was the same last week, but the Pittsburgh tragedy gave Angus the political cover to promote an agenda of silencing others.

Freedom of speech means controversial people can express controversial opinions.  It also means anyone can decide whether or not to entertain those views.  Yes, it even gives people the right to criticize a platform being afforded to someone.

This process becomes censorship when the force of the state is weighing in.  The NDP may not be in power right now, but it’s a party seeking to govern Canada.  As such, Canadians should be concerned if it has an official stance that anyone’s speeches should be shut down.  If it’s Bannon today, it’s someone else tomorrow.

In conversation with Tommy Robinson

Tommy Robinson carried a prison bag into London’s famous Old Bailey courthouse last week, expecting he’d be headed to jail after a contempt of court hearing.

That hearing never happened. The judge instead referred the case to the attorney general, which Robinson and his legal team had wanted all along. It was passionate personal statement from Robinson that swayed the judge.

This may be the end of the road for Robinson’s legal trials, but it won’t be for Robinson himself, who is still on a mission to expose the rape and grooming gangs that have popped up around the United Kingdom and Europe.

When I left Canada for the England, I wrote here that my coverage for the True North Initiative was for two purposes: I wanted to cover the case in a way the mainstream press has proven itself unable to, and also to get to the bottom of who and what Robinson really is.

The night before his court appearance, I sat down with Robinson one-on-one to talk about his legal ordeal, and more pointedly whether his beliefs align with how the media characterize them.

These interviews are only possible by your support, so please do consider becoming a member of the True North Initiative, to get exclusive access to content like this before it’s made public, and also some extra goodies.