The heading above appeared on an article about the progression of the Olympic torch through Canberra, Australia’s equivalent of Washington, D.C. But it could have been about lots of other places as well.

The “right to speak” that was extinguished was in fact the right to harass and disrupt a legitimate and peaceful sporting activity. Like most people in the Western world, I think that the Chinese occupation of Tibet is deplorable but that the authorities have the obligation to erect barricades etc to protect the torch-bearers from aggressive Leftist demonstrators is also undisputable to any reasonable person. It was not the right to speak that was suppressed but the right to make an asshole of yourself.

If attention-seeking Leftist demonstrators could be relied on to act peacefully, there would no doubt have been the right and opportunity to hold up any number of placards etc. but we know how peaceful the preachers of peace in fact are so if anybody suppressed the right of people to speak it was the thugs who made countermeasures to their aggression necessary.

And that the Chinese sent counter-demonstrators to protest against the protestors is entirely proper in a democratic society. It’s an inevitable consequence of taking your politics to the street. But it was not the Chinese who initiated that. Both sides are entitled to their say and if one side uses disruptive tactics the same is to be expected back.

The Prime Minister of Australia went to China recently and — speaking in Mandarin Chinese — personally conveyed to the Chinese leadership the disquiet that most Australians feel about China’s actions in Tibet. THAT was adult politics and an action that Australians can be proud of. There was NO silencing of what most Australians want to say to the Chinese leaders. Far from it.

Posted by John Ray. For a daily critique of Leftist activities, see DISSECTING LEFTISM. For a daily survey of Australian politics, see AUSTRALIAN POLITICS Also, don’t forget your summary of Obama news and commentary at OBAMA WATCH

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