The Dissenter's Voice

The ocassional comments, opinions, rambling and rants of a liberal dissenter in New Labour's Britain

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Why I'm glad Nick Griffin was acquitted

here's a piece that I wrote for lib Dem Voice last week. Thought it was worth reprinting given the authoritarian humbug that we've had from Gordon Brown on the subject.

"Nick Griffin, the Leader of the BNP, was acquitted yesterday of charges of inciting racial hatred. In 2004 Griffin made a speech to BNP activists in which he described Islam as a “wicked, vicious faith” and said that Muslims were turning Britain into a “multi-racial hell hole”.

Griffin is a racist, he espouses an ugly creed based on fear and ignorance, almost every word he says is offensive. But being offensive shouldn’t be enough to land you in jail.

Yesterday, Mizanur Rahman, a young radical Islamist was jailed for his part in the protest earlier this year over the Danish newspaper cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed. Rahman waved banners and chanted into a megaphone shouting “Annihilate those who insult Islam” and “Behead those who insult Islam.”

Although he apologises now, Rahman’s remarks were full of hate, they were grotesque, offensive and shocking. But being shocking shouldn’t be enough to get you convicted.

I’m a black gay man and much of the anti-hatred legislation that Griffin and Rahman were prosecuted under was designed to protect people like me. But freedom is a delicate thing, and I believe that our current raft of hate crime laws in danger of undermining the very freedom they aim to protect.


These laws are meant to stop people inciting others to acts of hatred, but how can you do that? Where do you draw the line? Hatred, however repugnant is a legitimate view. You might deplore it but you cannot abolish it by Act of Parliament.

Certainly the law can and should criminalise the planning and instruction of acts of violence, but is describing Islam as ‘wicked and vicious’ or saying that those who insult it should be ‘annihilated’ really the same thing?

I believe that there is a right to be offensive, to say things that scandalize and outrage opinion. Far more important though is the right to be offended. I would rather hear things that hurt me than be stopped from hearing them for my own good.

Being hateful is wrong but I don’t want to live in a society where it is illegal."

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Free speech is the cornerstone of any true democracy. The 2 and a half main parties pay lip service to it but, as I have long suspected don't really mean it. What they really mean is, so long as it is in the comfortable envelope of the accepted wisdom of the main parties.

What is really sad is most ordinary people are unconcerned with this dangerous erosion of our liberty.

And what is even sadder is that all those in power and influence, who say they are there to protect and guard over our liberties do not lift their smallest finger to defend it. They are all on the gravy train.

I support the BNP.

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Blogger Bullseye said...

I'm not so sure that you are very far away from those you condemn.

Thankfully though we don't live under a BNP government & so you still live in a country where you are free to wrong.

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