Dr Richard Barbrook, the university lecturer who spearheaded Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s new digital manifesto, once defended the free speech rights of the authors of an Italian book that was banned because it was perceived by a court to defend paedophilia.
An archived email from 1998 shows that Barbrook sent a lengthy message defending the accused’s rights to publish controversial material in Italy’s “Lasciate che i bimbi” trial. The email does not defend paedophilia. Rather, Barbrook argues, the publicity created by the trial gave the book an even larger audience than it would have had originally.
Barbrook did not respond to a request for comment ahead of the publication of this article. The University of Westminster also did not respond to a request for comment.
An Italian court requested that the book be withdrawn from the market due to its discussion of paedophilia and sexual liberty. Its title roughly translates as “Let the little children – Paedophilia: a pretext for a witch-hunt.”
Italian newspaper La Reppublica published a story on the book in 2001, noting that the court ordered that all current copies of the book be destroyed. The court also ordered the deletion of two paragraphs from a republished version of the book.
The email, which appears to have been sent by Barbrook from his University of Westminster email account in 1998, says that his department “wishes to express its support for the defendants in the ‘Lasciate che i bimbi’ trial. We particularly would like to protest against the attempt to censor Internet Service Providers for distributing this text. It is not only technically impossible to stop the publication of ‘Lasciate che i bimbi’ in a global system such as the Net. More importantly, this case is an attack against the founding principles of republican democracy.”
Babrook even offered to host the text of the book on his department’s own website in the name of media freedom: “The HRC would be willing to publish ‘Lasciate che i bimbi’ on its site – although the text has been mirrored so many times as to make such a gesture redundant.”
“On Paedophilia,” an academic study of paedophilia published in 2010, described part of the contents of “Lasciate che i bimbi.” It says that the book attempts to differentiate between “good” and “bad” paedophilia by accusing officials of branding all paedophiles as murderers. The implication is that because some of these accusations against pedophiles are false, the issue is overblown, and this creates a space for some types of paedophilia to exist. A “cry of ‘witch hunt’ is shouted to the heavens in order to justify a sexual pseudo-liberty which lies at the root of paedophilia,” the study says.
This isn’t the only story about Barbrook that has come out following the launch of Corbyn’s digital manifesto on Tuesday. Guido Fawkes reports that Barbrook has been photographed wearing a badge with the words “Óglaigh na hÉireann,” which translates as “soldiers of Ireland.” The phrase is associated with supporters of the IRA.
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