Orange suspends blogger over his 'Lefty Lexicon'

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Indy Politics

A website set up as a platform for Conservative Party supporters to debate Tory issues has found itself at the centre of a freedom of speech controversy.

A contributor has been suspended from his job as community affairs manager with the mobile phone company Orange after comments he made on the ConservativeHome website.

Inigo Wilson posted a "Lefty Lexicon" in which he defined "Islamophobic" as: "Anyone who objects to having their transport blown up on the way to work."

His definitions, which also include a description of Palestinians as "archetypal 'victims', no matter how many teenagers they murder in bars and fast-food outlets", led to a campaign on the forum website of the Muslim Public Affairs Committee encouraging people to complain to Mr Wilson's employer, the Orange mobile phone company. Initially, Orange replied to complainants saying: "Though we respect the right of our employees to do so, Orange does not hold or express opinions on such matters, therefore the article you referenced does not in any way represent the views of our organisation."

But as the deluge of complaints continued, the company decided to suspend Mr Wilson. Orange said the suspension is a "neutral act that allows us to conduct a full investigation".

While Mr Wilson's comments provoked criticism, users of ConservativeHome say that his suspension undermines free speech. The political commentator and former Conservative candidate Iain Dale said: "Inigo was acting in his private capacity. Orange have a choice - are they on the side of freedom of speech? The article is an attack on the left's approach to language and the way language is used to shut down debate and promote a particular world view. It is intended to be satirical. Sadly, his opponents have proved his point to him by their reaction."

In an editorial on ConservativeHome, its editor, Tim Montgomerie, formerly Iain Duncan Smith's political secretary, said: "ConservativeHome will do all it can to stand up for Inigo Wilson. His freedom of speech is our freedom of speech. Orange needs to know that."

The website was the first news source to reveal that the Conservative party was planning to replace its torch logo with an oak tree. Stories with details about David Cameron's A-list of preferred candidates regularly appear on the website before they are published in newspapers. But this is the first time that ConservativeHome has been at the centre of a controversy surrounding freedom of opinion.

Samuel Coates, the deputy editor of the website, said Mr Wilson's article is not offensive when read in its entirety. In context, it is a "tongue-in-cheek parody of the left".

He said: "If you look at definitions of 'diversity' and 'race issues' he shows that he is anti-racist and that people are being categorised by their skin and beliefs, rather than skills or aptitude for the job."

The offending words

Islamophobic - anyone who objects to having their transport blown up on the way to work.

Palestinians - archetypal "victims", no matter how many teenagers they murder in bars and fast-food outlets. Never responsible for anything they do - or done in their name - because of "root causes" or "legitimate grievances".

Al-Qa'ida - Muslim "militants" who for some reason continue to kill far more Muslims than people of any other faith.

Religion - Christianity: irrational, dangerous belief that material things may not be the principal motive behind human behaviour. Judaism: most Israelis are Jewish, so probably "intolerant". Islam: always needs to be "understood".

Hate-crime - same as "normal" crime as far as victims are concerned - but much more distressing for lefties.

Terrorist - no such thing. Only people suffering from "root causes" and "legitimate grievances".

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