Friday, 29 August 2014
Why does any of this matter to me?
Three people contacted me yesterday and asked why I was bothering with this business about Education Otherwise. After all, I’m no longer a home educator; why should I care? The reason is simple. I am very strongly opposed to censorship and am very much in favour of free speech. What I have seen happening in home education in this country over the last five years or so, is the emergence of a group who are committed to quite the opposite point of view. They wish to suppress debate and prevent others from expressing their opinions. This is awful, both in the abstract sense of being a bad thing, and also in the practical sense of being unhealthy for home education.
Readers with long memories will perhaps recall that I was at one time widely hated by many other home educators. This didn’t particularly bother me. Those who felt that I was a fool or a rogue could say what they wished about me; why should I object? This was so, even when they told lies, such as that I was a relative or employee of Graham Badman. It didn’t occur to me for a moment to try and stop them speaking. What I did find a little disturbing was that I was thrown off all the home education lists to which I belonged, so that I was unable to explain my views. Even more alarming was that anybody who supported me or even said that I might have a point, was also shouted down and thrown off various groups. This was back in 2009 and in retrospect, was a warning of how things were developing in the world of British home education.
After I was chucked off the various lists, such as the one run by Education Otherwise and Mike Fortune-Wood’s HE-UK, I started this blog. The aim was always to allow people to come here and debate. I never operated any moderation, although of course that has now changed. The reason that comments are now moderated is that a small group of home educators and former home educators cannot bear others to exercise free speech. Some of you might remember that there were pretty lively debates on here, with anybody being able to say anything at all. I was widely insulted and in return, expressed my own views freely. It was a forum where anybody could come and say what he or she pleased. Not any more.
As time passed after I was thrown off those internet groups, I realised that others were suffering the same fate. Sometimes they would be removed, at others, their comments would be removed or they would be placed on moderation. Slowly but surely, free debate about home education was strangled. This became so bad that people started a face book group where they could discuss things relating to home education freely. This was called Right to Reply. It no longer exists, although there is a second incarnation; Right to Reply 2.
The fate of this blog and the Right to Reply facebook groups are very similar. They were both targeted by Alison Sauer and her friends. Threats were made, involving both legal action and more direct, physical harm; such as the rape of family members, nuisance deliveries to people‘s homes and the sabotage of email accounts. The police were called, arrests were made and writs issued. The consequence of all this was that I had to start moderating and deleting comments on this blog; which had the effect of preventing free discussion. The Right to Reply group was closed down and on the on the new version, posts are copied and sent to the police, as well as a writ being issued. All this has had the effect of preventing free discussion there as well.
The same, small group of people is behind all these actions. This group includes Alison Sauer, Mike Fortune-Wood, Katya Lamb and Cheryl Moy. It is some of these people, who have caused so much harm to free speech and open debate, who are now involved in the attempts to acquire influence or control over the largest home education group in the United Kingdom. That is why I am concerned and it is why I have started blogging again for a while.