Speakers Corner, Hyde Park, London
November 21, 2001 1:39 PM   Subscribe

Speakers Corner, Hyde Park, London Have always heard so much about this. Wild debates all Sunday long, no rest for the weary. Martin the Sex Speaker, Simon the Bulgarian and Barry the Marxist Mystic; who knows, do they have their own web sites ? Any other Speakers Corners one can go to, or is this purely a British phenomenon?
posted by Voyageman (13 comments total)
The official Speaker's corner homepage has some video and audio (including Martin the sex speaker).
posted by jheiz at 2:06 PM on November 21, 2001

Fantastic link, Voyageman. I've neither been to nor really desired to go to Speaker's Corner. In 5 minutes this man has changed my mind. I really hope that the religious hatred clauses in Blunkett's new anti-terrorism bill won't take too much of a toll on this tradition.

Loved this line, too:

Putting on my "Man Watching" Desmond Morris hat, I am being drawn to the conclusion that Muslims are merely seeking to re-inforce their sincerity by expressing emotion during their argument. To the regular Westerner, this is intimidation.
posted by dlewis at 2:24 PM on November 21, 2001

There's a handful of "Free Speech Parks" in various US cities. Not quite the same thing, though; and I'm not sure whether wider US First-Amendment guarantees, or simply cultural differences, are at the root.
posted by dhartung at 2:54 PM on November 21, 2001

The little plaza at the intersection of Park and Tremont streets in Boston has always been something of a soapbox zone, although nowadays that mostly seems to mean guys with bibles from Iowa or Nebraska or some place screaming at the tops of their lungs.
posted by agaffin at 3:34 PM on November 21, 2001

Speakers corner is great - some truly unique viewpoints there. Plus the opportunity for a good heckle should it take your fancy.. Although of course, a good shouted debate with a religion based speaker is always good - heartily recommended to all =)
posted by Mossy at 3:43 PM on November 21, 2001

Singapore (yes) has a speaker's corner. Its use is governed by the Police.

Some of the rules: there are to be no organised gatherings, no amplification devices are allowed, no talking about race or religion, and everyone has to register with the police before doing anything.

It's a pretty quiet place. Can't imagine why.
posted by jetgrrl at 5:32 PM on November 21, 2001

dlewis, thanks.

Well I'll be damned, its charter, an illustrated history , George Orwell give his two pennies on Freedom of the Park , even Lenin's wife has something to add.
posted by Voyageman at 6:39 PM on November 21, 2001

Wait, there's more.

Video clips of Martin the Sex Speaker, Simon the Bulgarian and Barry the Marxist Mystic.

What would I give to see some of Mefi's best and brightest live in Hyde Park.
posted by Voyageman at 6:47 PM on November 21, 2001

This past summer (and previous summers?), on the corner of 8th Avenue and 35th street in NYC, there was always a shouting match going on by some of the same people every day. Like a lively discussion starring two people, with random people off the street choosing sides and participating in the debate. I could never quite catch what they were discussing, because there were always so many people talking at once. It was a bit like Politically Incorrect.

Now that I think about it, it may be 7th Avenue.

Of course, Times Square serves as a bit of a speaker's corner at times too, for various extremist religious groups and the naked singing cowboy.
posted by edlundart at 7:04 PM on November 21, 2001

In Toronto there's a TV station (TV superpower, actually) called CityTV, and with CityTV comes Speaker's Corner, a sorta Televised version of the Classic.
posted by Newbornstranger at 7:13 PM on November 21, 2001

I remember when they reopened the use of Speakers Corner in Singapore. It was the funniest thing ever. The first time someone was up to speak, there were 60 people there listening. 57 of them were media covering the event. The next time, no-one. And thereafter.

Subsequent media reports relayed confusion as to why no-one was using this venue. They then outlined that you had to submit an exact essay of your speech to the police for approval before you were allowed to speak and you were not allowed to talk about anything controversial at all. On top of that, who coud possibly come and listen to anything you had to say when you're not allowed to have an organised gathering?

Free speech? What's that?
posted by Jubey at 10:24 PM on November 21, 2001

can anyone get up there? I have a beef about Beefeaters eating beef that is not from america.
posted by clavdivs at 7:53 AM on November 22, 2001

AFAIK, absolutely anyone can get up and speak. I've heard (via word-of-mouth, from extremely sketchy sources) that the only restrictions are that you need to be at least six inches off the pavement (most use stepladders) and can't blaspheme.

Most of the speakers tend to speak about religious stuff though. The heckling is better than a movie and a lot cheaper.

I highly recommend it if you're in London.
posted by Vidiot at 1:05 PM on November 24, 2001

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