The newspapers in Britain, the news broadcasts and even Question Time have been in a tither over the fact that the Oxford Union Society invited both the notorious pseudo-historian and former holocaust denier, David Irving and Nick Griffin, unctuous, islamphobic leader of the British National Party as speakers to a debate regarding freedom of speech. There were many protests about this and indeed on the night of the debate, the force of anti-fascist protesters and right wing counter-protestors was such that the two aforementioned luminaries were forced to appear in two different chambers on security grounds.
The grounds for protest ran thus: both individuals are racists, although neither admit to this as such; both have been in trouble with the law for the espousal of their views; both might well welcome any opportunity to pour poison into the ears of the young; both have used the term 'freedom of speech' to justify their perverted ideas and methods. My rationalist reaction to all of this was "Poppycock!". In the first place, anyone who might be converted to their politics hardly needs to go to the Oxford Union for this to happen; the world is strewn with their publications, speaker meetings and party meetings take place and... drumroll... 5 seconds on the internet produce remarkale results regarding their deeds and actions from both sympathetic and critical perspectives. As far as their views go, I have frankly heard worse down the pub (usually before supping up quietly and slowly slinking out of the door). Secondly, there is the whole ballgame regarding freedom of speech. Unfortunately, it must be accepted that do have the right to express their political views, within reason. Political parties and groups, where they do not contravene the constitution (we have one in the UK you know, it just isn't a written one) nor yet participate in criminal acts really rather ought to have the right to meet and demonstrate. Everybody has views which offend someone somewhere, but this is no reason not to extend the same privilege/right to free speech to all-comers. Exclude one group and who is going to be able to stem the tide of censorship that will come to bear on everybody else in time? Thirdly, both gentlemen received untold publicity merely from the fact of the protests surrounding them, as has long been the case. Indeed they have both been vilified, but then is there not the old showbiz adage that there is no such thing as bad publicity? Let them say their parts and then slope off to the gutters from whence they came as is fitting. Or better still, open up their views to a proper debate, considered on all sides; that'd fix'em... Don't martyr the sonsabitches!
Y'see, I am happy with the idea of quiet and reasoned protests against bigotry, but this isn't what occured on this occasion, not in the slightest. Ages back, I wrote a piece which described why, despite having strong views on the whole subject, I am not an anti-fascist. In short, a demonstration held by the NPD in Göttingen was so swamped by counter-demonstrators that a riot ensued. On this occasion, the easiest way to get a catalogue of the misdeeds of the counter-protestors was to head for the local party website and there it was in full - property damage, assault of police oficers and members of the public, full cost of clear up etc. - no wonder Germany was going to pot! And, lo and behold, on the BNP site is a report of the Union event, complaiing of the police'S inability to hold back '...a gang of 30 violent thugs...' and strutting about how at last a platform for the party's views had been found despite the prejudice against them.
David Irving is a paper tiger of the first water. Nick Griffin is the scary one, the man who is working so very hard to get his party the aforementioned 'platform', to make his party electable and... he appears to be succeeding, albeit gradually. His fellow travellers despise immigrants and he himself was prosecuted for inciting racial hatred for a speech where he predicted that British Moslems would come and try to blow up all of us white, anglo types one day. As I said, I have heard worse down the pub, especially in the aftermath of the London Bombings of 2005, but generally speaking the 5 pint bigots aren't in charge of political parties nor yet, like the BNP, have their own TV station. Of course this man wants a platform for his twisted views and the actions of the protestors in Oxford gave him a bloody good one.
I say let these dogs have their day and let the rest of us listen and read and reason and cut them down with the truth instead of ire.
Puh-LEASE vote for me! Behind the button!