Regular readers to my blog will know I am a passionate defender of freedom of speech, especially the concept that this necessarily extends to expressions of opinion that may offend.
Someone who has exercised this right recently is Dr Una Coles, a previous unsuccessful candidate for the position of President of the Royal College of General practitioners.
(My understanding is that if copyright exists on this picture,
it is the property of the Daily Mail newspaper)
In a recent booklet she strongly implies that her own college, in it’s examination procedures, is guilty of racism, sexism, fatism and homophobia. Now I’m all for expression of opinion, but this goes further than that and is an implied accusation of illegal practices, and I would have thought that the laws on libel may well apply here.
Needless to say her comments have attracted widespread condemnation. My only comment would be that if she were to make such allegations I would expect to see some evidence to support them and as far as I am aware all Dr Coles has is one or two anecdotes relating to unidentified individuals. Hardly what I would call evidence.
But it gets stranger. In the article as it appeared in yesterday’s Daily Mail it was stated that another GP had made strong but perfectly valid criticism of the publication on the twitter account of Ms Coles. I think that if someone makes provocative and unsupported statements it is inevitable that they would draw criticism, and that again falls under the laws of freedom of speech. However again according to yesterdays Mail she had responded to this in a completely excessive manner, allegedly reporting the GP to the Metropolitan Police for being a Troll.
Now I’m not sure that trolling even constitutes a criminal offence, but if this were to be true then it would demonstrate a degree of hypocrisy and arrogance that is quite startling. If you want to make controversial statements then you have to expect critical response. Hysterical responses as if your own views are above criticism just makes you look an arrogant twat.
Strangely, in the Mail article as it appears on line today the reference to Ms Coles involving the police has disappeared. And so has Ms Cole’s twitter account.
I too have had overreactions from Ms Coles in the past. I gained the impression that she favours her own freedom of speech, but isn’t too keen on others using it to criticise her, and would like to silence critics. I don’t know if she will be in touch with me, or if she will express a desire to deprive me of my pen. But if she does................