Alex van Terheyden
A day out in London's Speakers Corner
Speakers corner - the home to Free Speech in the United Kingdom - or is it really?
I'm a big fan of the craziness that goes on down in the north-eastern side of Hyde Park. I've been frequenting the corner sporadically since 1999. The Trees may have grown slightly bigger and bike lanes now pass through the corner but not much has changed about its physical appearance at least since I first discovered it way back in 1999. However, the patch of land has taken a dark turn in recent years - once a place where ideas from all walks of life could be discussed openly - it no longer seems that way as the corner has been taken over by new arrivals who seem intent on pushing their warped ideology onto the world with force and violence rather than the open exchange of ideas.
The last time I made a video from Speakers corner in London hyde park it was indirectly responsible for costing me dearly. See my cancelled video to understand what happened there. However, I live by the belief that free speech and the freedom to share ideas should be every human beings right. No matter what country you live in.
It has long been assumed that since the 19th century Speakers corner was a place one could speak freely and about anything. However, despite being frequented by Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin, George Orwell and George Galloway over the years this sadly for Brits & visitors is not the home of free speech. Unlike our American cousins, the Brits do not have the 1st Amendment.
Speakers here may talk on any subject, as long as the police consider their speeches lawful, although this right is not restricted to Speakers' Corner only. And like I say, contrary to popular belief, there is no immunity from the law, nor are any subjects proscribed, but in practice, the police intervene only when they receive a complaint. On some occasions in the past, they have intervened on grounds of profanity. And sadly in the 2020s Police now have a belief in the fakery that is hate speech. However, that doesn’t stop regulars and visitors from frequenting Speakers corner every week of the year. Sunday is consistently the most popular day to visit.
The main reason a lot of people were in Speakers' corner, the day I decided to stroll down there, is that they wanted to show their support for a speaker called "Hutan". The previous week she had been violently attacked for voicing her opinion. The man has since been arrested but this part of Londonhould never feel intimidating for any one - man or women. However, this should not put visitors from visiting this iconic over policied and controversial corner of London.
Due to the Lockdown measures that the United Kingdom is now under, it may now be illegal for speakers to gather in Speakers Corner. However, if you would like to check out the place where ideas can be exchanged sometimes with joy and sometimes with aggression I highly recommend popping down on a Sunday afternoon. Usually, between 1 pm and 4 pm, it will be at its busiest. And as per usual if you aren't from London I do recommend travelling into London via Train because parking in London is an absolute nightmare - to do this efficiently I recommend Trainline.com and if you want to make a weekend of it try using either Booking.com or Airbnb for you travel needs.
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Thank you - Alex van Terheyden AKA The Wondering Englishman