« Fair Trade and Capitalism | Main | Dog Bites Man Headline! »

November 11, 2006

BNP and Free Speech

Repellent though their views are the aquittal of two BNP types seems about right.  Charged with  incitement to racial hatred they were found not guilty of it. What worries me rather more is the reaction

Pledging a legislative rethink on the issue, the Chancellor said: "Any preaching of religious or racial hatred will offend mainstream opinion in this country and I think we have got to do whatever we can to root it out, from whatever quarter it comes."

It is impossible to have freedom of speech if you cannot say things that offend mainstream opinion. For example, my opinions upon abortion certainly offend mainstream opinion (it's murder and I'm against it) but is that a justifiable reason for not allowing me to make those views public?

If we limit it just to religion, Ian Paisley's insistence that the Pope in in fact the Anti-Christ is offensive to that part of the population Christian enough to actually understand what he means. Should that be illegal? Race? We can't snarl at Taffs?

There are justifiable restrictions upon free speech: shouting fire in a crowded theatre, incitement to violence etc, but pissing off the  mainstream opinion simply isn't one of them.

Update: Dave Weedon seems to agree.

November 11, 2006 in Politics | Permalink

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d8341c2d3e53ef00d834c47ae853ef

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference BNP and Free Speech:

Comments

Mainstream opinion is probably more bothered about a bunch of facists with power going round creating laws about what people say than they are a bunch of incompetent facists who couldn't run a whelk stall.

Posted by: Paul | Nov 11, 2006 8:16:51 AM

Tim,

Does that greetin'-faced, snipe-nosed elitist Fife clown want to go down in history as the Scotsman who put the Tartan Army out of business?

God's sake, up here baiting the English isn't just a bad habit, it's the bloody national pastime...

Wembley '77! Those were the days!

Did you know that, in some quarters, portions of the pitch are relics as sacred (and prolific) as St. Augustine's shinbones? And there must have eight goalposts on the park that glorious, glorious day...

Posted by: Martin | Nov 11, 2006 8:20:53 AM

In The Times:

>Lord Falconer of Thoroton, QC, the Lord Chancellor, last night supported Mr Brown’s calls for reform of religious hatred laws. "We should look at them in the light of what has happened because what is being said to young Muslim people of this country is that we as a country are anti-Islam and we have got to demonstrate without compromising freedom that we are not."

In other words, we are frightened of what these men might do, so we want to appease them.

Posted by: Jammy | Nov 11, 2006 9:13:35 AM

What really disturbs me about all this, is the fact that Brown (who will be worse than Blair) dosen't seem to understand what the word liberty means.

Being a born free Englishman, I've been brought up to believe in a democracry, everyone is entitled, at the very least, to have their say. Indeed, how can we have a free, open and frank discussion on the issue of race, if racists are not allowed to speak their mind?

Brown's attitude exposes his contempt, not for the BNP, but for all of us - he seems to think that one word from the BNP will turn people in Britain into some sort of racist pogrom.

Posted by: Courtney Hamilton | Nov 11, 2006 1:18:46 PM

Muslims always utter the phrase "Peace be upon him" after mentioning the prophet's name. I now note that anyone defending the BNP's right to free speech is always preface their comments with the disclaimer about them being thugs with repellent ideologies. While not disagreeing with that sentiment, why must we be considered racists or fascist sympathisers simply for defending the concept of free speech?

Posted by: MarkS | Nov 11, 2006 1:58:58 PM

Nick Griffin may be saying it for the wrong reasons and in undiplomatic terms, but there is more than a grain of truth in his analysis of Islam, certainly more than in "Islam is a religion of peace". Were Mohammed trying to claim divine revelation in this day and age, most would view him on a par with David Koresh, Jim Jones and Marshall Applewhite.

Posted by: DocBud | Nov 11, 2006 11:18:22 PM

MarkS, I agree with your comment. So true. I was struck by the fact that Sky News yesterday (while I was watching) couldn't find one person to agree with the verdict. The only comments in agreement were those emailed in from viewers. It is as though people fear that they would be seen as BNP sympathisers if they openly said they supported the verdict.

We cannot pick and choose the people who are 'worthy' of certain rights. Many of those who celebrate the abstract notion of free speech being a wonderful thing begin to cough and splutter when the BNP line up behind other citizens to claim their entitlement.

Posted by: Bel | Nov 11, 2006 11:36:36 PM

MarkS, I agree with your comment. So true. I was struck by the fact that Sky News yesterday (while I was watching) couldn't find one person to agree with the verdict. The only comments in agreement were those emailed in from viewers. It is as though people fear that they would be seen as BNP sympathisers if they openly said they supported the verdict.

We cannot pick and choose the people who are 'worthy' of certain rights. Many of those who celebrate the abstract notion of free speech being a wonderful thing begin to cough and splutter when the BNP line up behind other citizens to claim their entitlement.

Posted by: Bel | Nov 11, 2006 11:37:46 PM

I would comment, without apology, that I find the ideology of Islam every bit as repellent as the racist politics of the BNP. Yet, I am damned as a fascist or racist for articulating the former but praised for the latter. Why? I find fundamentalists who murder doctors in the name of religion equally reprehensible.

Islam is demonstrably racist and hypocritical. Where is the statement from the MCB suggesting that Muslim genocide against Africans is "offensive" or insulting or even (heaven forbid) paradoxical? The Arabs of Darfur are, after all, orthodox practitioners of the so-called Religion of Peace?

Islam, on human and civil rights grounds IS 'a wicked and evil ideology'. If 12 jurists did not find that to be a racist statement then no law has been broken. In western Europe, all religion is satirised, criticised, questioned - there are no Jews or CofE or Catholics or Dissenters burning and rioting in response.

Islam has successfully inverted the term 'racist' to a purpose. Islam perpetuates the diktats of a 5th century Egocentric and wishes to impose those on 21st century western society. Jihad is an imperative of the creed and, covert colonisation is facilitated by a gagged majority.

"If the infidels, upon receiving the call, neither consent to it nor agree to pay capitation tax, it is then incumbent on the Muslims to call upon God for assistance, and to make war upon them; ...... the Prophet, moreover, commands us so to do."
http://www.campus-watch.org/article/id/684

Posted by: Kate | Nov 12, 2006 12:09:22 AM

Twelve jurors acquitted Griffin. I imagine that's why we can now expect trial by jury to be curtailed and why the government will amend race hate laws until Griffin can be incarcerated. I'd have more respect for the government if they simply marched round to Griffin's house with their storm troopers and locked him up without trial. So much more honest than trying to rig the judicial system to find him guilty. I'm no supporter of the BNP (Peace be upon him) but I am really concerned at the shrinking civil rights in this country. Where was that Chakrabati woman from Liberty when they were asking for people to defend Griffin's right to freedom of speech? Maybe they should rename it "Liberty... so long as we agree with your views"!

Posted by: MarkS | Nov 12, 2006 7:22:02 AM

[If we limit it just to religion, Ian Paisley's insistence that the Pope in in fact the Anti-Christ is offensive to that part of the population Christian enough to actually understand what he means. Should that be illegal?]

Since there is already an offence of incitement to religious hatred in Northern Ireland and has been since 1977, I think we can pretty much establish that this doesn't fall under it.

Posted by: dsquared | Nov 13, 2006 7:40:22 AM

Just a thought. One thing is missing from all this and that is the reaction from the resident religious teddy chuckers. These people lost the plot over cartoons, and yet, considering the subject matter of the trial and the result, we have heard not a single peep.
Secondly, and I have said this before, one of the facts I have come across is that today’s British society is more repressive than the Russian communist state ever was before the Berlin wall came down. The only difference is the judicial system and the punishments they can dish out. The BNP have temporarily saved our freedom of speech and I stress temporarily.
One other question. Who the hell can we vote for in the next election considering the current crop of apprentice retards and dictators we have to choose from? Its almost come down to "Vote for your own hell!" because none of them are going to be any good for this country.

Posted by: Quiet Mind | Nov 13, 2006 2:04:43 PM

Fair enough. As a former Conservative member and activist i have been ignoring the Conservatives since I joined the BNP.

Posted by: John | Nov 23, 2006 8:06:35 AM