Compliance with untruth

The New Criterion has produced a symposium on the topic “Free Speech Under Threat”, and Dalrymple’s contribution describes some of the tactics used by the NHS to undermine it:

Doctors in the United Kingdom now have to go through a procedure called “annual appraisal,” in which a series of pro forma questions are asked of a doctor by another doctor, who may have become a specialist in such appraisals, easily capable of earning £2,000 a day by performing them (every regulation is a certain kind of entrepreneurial opportunity). One of the questions that the appraiser has to ask is “Do you have any concerns about your probity?”

When I was first asked this question, I told the appraiser that I would answer it on the condition that he answered two questions. He agreed, and I asked the two questions.

“The first,” I said, “is ‘What kind of person would answer such a question?’ and the second is ‘What kind of person would ask it?’ ”

“Oh, I know,” he replied, “but just answer ‘No’ so that we can get this over with.”


Mistrust, fear, emasculation, compliance with untruth: these are not propitious for free speech and, perhaps worst of all, require no official censor to restrict it. The population will restrict it all by itself.

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