Can we exclude a person from our country just because we don’t like what they say or how they say it?
Most of us try to live as peacefully as possible on Earth, and prefer to distance ourselves from people who might make that more unpleasant.
There are a number of people that we feel could make our lives more unsavoury and therefore hope to avoid, whether because of their views or actions.
But does the law ever help us as a nation to keep these people at arm’s length?
MM have teamed up with Olliers Solicitors, a leading criminal law firm, to answer your questions.
“Hi Mancunian Matters,
You’ve probably heard about a ‘pick-up artist’ Julien Blanc. He’s that guy who spouts lots of misogynist and even sometimes racist views and he’s heading for the UK! Brilliant, I know.
While on tour in Australia, public backlash meant the government cancelled his visa, forcing him to leave.
Is it the same in the UK though? Can a visa be revoked because the public don’t want someone here? We’ve been arguing about it in the office all day so thought you guys could solve it for us.”
Self-proclaimed ‘pick-up artist’ Julien Blanc caused quite a stir recently during a tour in Australia due to expressing misogynist, racist and sexist views during his ‘educational’ seminars about how to pick up women.
However, his ‘teachings’ enforce the view that women are somehow second class citizens and encourage men to treat them however they wish to get them into bed; many of his pick-up techniques would literally amount to harassment in the UK.
The folk down under were as equally unimpressed with the 25-year-old’s techniques for picking up women, which included choking them, injuring their pets and threatening to commit suicide.
The controversy was significant enough for a public outcry to result in his visa being revoked and his visit to Oz cut short as the public simply did not want him (or his views) in their civilised society.
Now the delightful Mr Blanc is headed for Britain on November 21 to educate us all on how to pick up women, although the welcoming committee may not be as warm as he would like.
Members of the great British public including some politicians have already started to petition that his entry be refused.
Criminal minister, Lynne Featherstone has petitioned directly to Home Secretary, Teresa May for his entry to be denied and said she was ‘extremely concerned’ by Mr Blanc’s ‘sexist and utterly abhorrent’ comments about women.
She is confident that cases of sexual harassment and intimidation would increase as a result of him being allowed to preach to UK about his views.
Clearly not one to shy away from such controversy, Mr Blanc only made matters worse when, with reference to a diagram intended to educate women about the signs of abuse, he Tweeted “#HowToMakeHerStay”.
Said diagram includes isolation, intimidation and emotional abuse as signs of abuse against women yet Mr Blanc refers to this casually as his ‘checklist’ on how to keep a woman.
The question asked by many is whether the UK deny his entry based on such behaviour? To answer that question one must look to the Immigration Rules specifically paragraph 320 which states that refusal can be on ‘general grounds because of a person’s background, behaviour, character, conduct or associations’.
Paragraph 6 of the Home Office guidance also states that entry can be refused ‘where the Secretary of State has personally directed that the exclusion of a person from the United Kingdom is conducive to the public good’.
This would usually result in background checking for criminal convictions etc that may mean the public are more likely to be at risk from this person.
If enough of the public did not want Mr Blanc here, then it is within Teresa May’s powers to bar him from entering the UK and saving us all from his misogynist ravings.
From a legal point of view, there may be an argument that denying entry to the UK on such grounds would be a breach of Mr Blanc’s basic human rights.
Freedom of speech is hugely important in our society however with that freedom must come some degree of responsibility and culpability.
The views of Julien Blanc may very well encourage appalling and potentially criminal behaviour towards women that simply have no place in the modern world.
The UK also has a great number of laws that protect women from abuse and granting Mr Blanc a working visa to deliver his seminars would not be sending a message of zero tolerance towards such behaviour.
There are many in this world who cite their right to free speech as a get-out clause for almost anything. However this right is not a shield for people to hide behind to avoid responsibility.
In summary, the UK can refuse entry to Mr Blanc but Teresa May has a balancing act on her hands and consider Mr Blanc’s freedom of speech but also what is conducive to the public good.
It’s a tricky question and one that a quote commonly misattributed to Voltaire does not necessarily aid in answering: “I disapprove of what you say, but shall defend to the death your right to say it.”
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Image courtesy of CNN via Youtube, with thanks.