- Sun Oct 21, 2012 5:36 am
My opinion is that freedom of speech is of course a great thing and something we are all entitled to regardless of our political beliefs. I am not condoning the banning of free speech now, nor would I ever in the future, no matter what kind of appalling statements I might one day hear.
What is not acceptable however (as is recognised by law), is the public posting of comments meant to incite hatred or violent action against others.
Just because Griffin did not directly say "Go and show these gays what we think of them, kick their arses", doesn't mean that it is not clearly implied. As has been discussed previously, Griffing is no stupid man in that sense, he knows all to well that even if such things were once a legal grey area due to the relative infancy of the internet as a method of communication, they are not so clouded now.
Thongs have changed, and as more cases of internet-orchestrated violence and bullying cases come to light, the more the law has had to change to prevent the abuse of the technology (the laws are not perfect and catching the anonymous is still difficult - but the difference now is that hard to police or not, certain public online behaviours are now recognised as crimes). Never -except perhaps in a moment of rage induced madness or accidentally letting his guard down- will he ever shoot straight and and ask his followers to demonstrate his and their feelings about those they feel are different, dangerous or unpatriotic in so many ways only they see. Just as the medium uses leading questions to make his subject tell him what he wants to know without having to ask outright, the ring leader of this violently intolerant party makes a comment to achieve what he wants, but in a way that he hopes will not be detected by those looking on. He drips poison in the ears of his party members, slowly converting them to his way of thinking.
Ask yourselves, if the comment was not meant to intimidate or instil fear in who it was aimed at...what was it for? What other, decent purpose could you find for such a comment? What innocent interpretation could there be that we have all misunderstood?
We have all seen the tweet in question. What is clear from the comment is that he was at the very least intending to cause great distress for the couple by making what cannot possibly be seen as anything other than a homophobic statement - regardless of what else he said there was obvious homophobic overtones even without the rest. This alone is wrong, as seen by the law of this country regardless of what he says now.
At worst, he was encouraging his followers and BNP supporters to show themselves at the couple's home - if not to cause great fear and distress at the very least - then as I say, to do what?
We all know his thoughts on gay rights, and gay relationships - particularly in relation to gay marriage. Even if this comment had come at another time when there was not such a high profile discrimination case in the news and he was saying it for some other unfathomable reason connected to nothing, what would be his intention? But the fact is he said it now, in light of this case fought by people from a social group he has no respect for, and this cannot be overlooked.
Taking this into account, and the nature of his subtle sonar call to his supporters, just what do people think would have happened if they had gone there? Call me psychic, but there is no doubt in my mind at least, that something bad would have happened if anyone had followed through with Griffin's request to go to the couple's home. He cannot pretend it was not what it seems either, for the exact same reason - what did he think was likely to happen if you sent a group of hyped up right-wing gay haters to the home of an openly gay couple who have just won a case against a supposed decent christian husband and wife? They weren't going to give them flowers and offer to open up some friendly discussion about inequality and how to bring about understanding between two well-opposing groups - hardline christians and the lesbian and gay community, and it is foolish to think he was not aware of how the comment would read and how it could be interpreted...it was not even that subtle. Which ever way he did it -be it an open call to his supporters or the more round about one he made this time- the outcome would have been the same - whether he genuinely approached some of his supporters and organised a group to go there, or if he didn't and it was a lie, he knew what it meant as a statement towards this couple, and how some of his more knuckle dragging friends would interpret it.
Griffin never denied tweeting the address, or that he thought he was right to do it for the obviously fake reasons he gave. Yet when questioned if he would do it again with the address of the judge who resided over the case, he was not so clear and assured. He weaseled around the question saying yes if he had the address, implied however that he wouldn't be looking for it, and so on and so on. If he was truly convinced of his democratic right to do what he did in the name of his freedom of speech, if he was so sure he was right, he would have had no trouble defending his actions or answering questions about them. IN the scenario presented to him he clearly knew publicly releasing the address of a judge would land him in very dangerous waters, he would never go that far against someone in such a position of power who he knows understands the law inside out. He can make the distinction between a target that it is relatively safe for him to distantly attack via his minions, and one that is bigger and more powerful than him and can fight back. Those are the actions of a bully, no matter how you slice it.
He can hold whatever opinion he likes about gay people, even if the majority of people thankfully no longer agree with him in this day and age. He can come right out and all over facebook say he hates fags for all I care, I would hate him for it but he can by all means say it. He says awful things all the time, online and in videos secretly filmed and posted on Youtube, yet never before has there been such a public calling for him to be banned from any form of social media...because in those cases like that it was just him spouting his opinion, and if that was all it was now, the reaction today would be no different - people hate him but have to let him speak. This is not one of those occasions.
There is a massive difference between saying you hate a group of people, and saying you will send a group of your supporters around to where some of them live. What he did was so clearly not him just stating his opinion, and personally, I think only a fool could look at that tweet and not see the difference.
I think sometimes people are too afraid of the whole freedom of speech debate to deal with some people who are clearly abusing the privilege - been as they are, too afraid of coming across as anything less than a hundred percent liberal and democratic. But as I have said before, with rights come responsibilities, and even the most democratic amongst us has never argued against the need for laws and respect.
There is sometimes a knee-jerk reaction to any comment hinting that a particular person should be punished for saying something that is seen by many as inciting (something that is far more objective than outright racist, or homophobic, as though it is that hard to distinguish between incitement and opinion - yes it can be, but more often than not, it isn't). It is almost as if the feeding of false stories of oppression of the masses to speak openly any more (made by Griffin and those like him) have worked their way into the minds of everyone - even those normally wise to him and fervently against him. It is very strange.
As if there is truly a knock on effect in which the taking down of one person would lead to the removal of such rights from everyone. Ludicrous. Absolutely ludicrous. The fact that we are allowed to have kitchen knives in our homes doesn't mean we are allowed to go out into the street and stab whoever we don't like, and if someone who did were arrested and put in jail, no one would cry against it and say that soon the government will be banning us from owning kitchen knives. No matter what the laws are - even if they are very hardline- those who do not wish to cause harm, those to whom it would never even occur to say something harmful or which would incite violence, those people would have no reason to worry because they will never say anything to break those rules. In my experience, the reason people like Griffin spout on and on about how our freedom of speech is in danger, do so because they know what they are saying is wrong and dreadful, and fear the punishment they would receive for saying the things they do.
I never have, nor ever would be, against free speech - nor was that my reason for putting the petition up. But I am against the obvious incitement to intimidation that was demonstrated in Nick Griffin's comment -as (need I remind people), are our current laws. That, is what he should be banned for, and if he ever were to be the fact that this is the reason should be made very VERY clear - so as not to add fuel to their arguments (which he would use anyway as we know, no matter what the outcome the fact that some people would use certain situations to their own advantage for vile purpose should not stop people from doing the right thing).
Do not confuse taking steps to preventing people from coming to harm or suffering abuse with the desire to stop all of society from openly expressing their thoughts.
"He represents everything that is rotten in the State of Anywhere". - © George Melly (Apply where appropriate).