London - Speakers Corner
Tree near Hyde Park Corner, Hyde Park, London.
Sunday, May 14, 2006
I checked in to the hotel. It being a Sunday, I knew that they'd be out at Speaker's Corner. It walked down Picadilly ( Street ) and into Hyde Park. Despite the fact that there is supposedly a drought in England, the grass in these adjacent parks could not have been greener. The wonderful smell of healthy, growing grass could be sensed across the road.
Speaker's Corner is a designated area at Hyde Park where public speaking has been allowed since 1855. Usually, its not run-of-the-mill public speaking. Extreme views proliferate. When I first visited, over 20 years ago, I saw a number of crackpots, including one guy who wanted to revive the British Empire, in its entirety, including re-establishment of control over North America. What would I find this time?
The first speaker I encountered was this guy. He was very critical of suicide bombers in Israel. Fine, I'm critical of them myself. But his criticism was not that they were blowing up the Israelis. He said that he understood that completely. He didn't like the fact that by blowing themselves up, each operation was of necessity a one-off deal. Better, he said, to plant a bomb and hightail it out of there, so as to preserve the right to " fight " another day.
The old Muslim vs Christian debate. But this one's peaceful. The Christian speaks from the Bible and is challenged by the Muslim guy. A few minutes later it was reversed. Good-natured challenges to one another's statements.
Did I mention that I joined a new religion when I was over there?
Wasn't quite sure what this guy's gig was. Maybe I will find out the next time.
Speaker's Corner has been around for over 150 years. Check it out the next time you're in London.
Tomorrow: NYC Subway vs London Underground