Monday, October 19, 2009

today : a dilemma

Here's my dilemma. When Nick Griffin appears on Question Time, should I watch?

Reasons for: I want to see what happens. I'm curious to see what the audience and the other panellists make of having a fascist horror in their midst. I want to see what someone whose entire ideology I utterly abhor, might say. What weasel words will he use?

Part of me would also like to see him screw up big time. Squirming when reminded of his previous convictions for inciting racial hatred and his close associations with violent anti-Semites, Holocaust deniers and other unpalatable racist thugs. I'd love it if he slipped up and made prosecutable comments on TV.

Reasons against : I would be offering him exactly what he wants. I'd be a viewing figure. And even though I could convince myself that I'd just be 'observing', by tuning in to watch him debate I would be participating in his awful project to legitimise the politics of evil and hatred.

When I was younger, and a University student, I was pretty uncomfortable with the then NUS policy of offering 'No Platform' to people whose views were dodgy and unacceptable. This was the mid 1980s - so that involved many sitting MPs and pretty much anyone who'd not supported the miners. There was an ugly trait amongst some left wing activists that smacked to me of extremism, and sometimes it struck me that the agendas were not political but personal. People were outcast and stuff was censored and proscribed for no good reason. I guess it was mainly young people who had a bit of power and got drunk on it.

But I am more than twenty years older now. I still an inveterate fan of free speech but am a solid believer in offering no platform to fascists. And I don't think the two are mutually exclusive in a mature society. I cannot really understand why The BNP is not just banned from standing in elections, or at least aggressively prosecuted every time they show their ugly faces in public. It does nobody any good for them to spread their poisonous falsehoods under the banner of political ideas. Their rhetoric and policies are monstrously retrograde and demeaning to anyone who believes in democracy.

Should I watch?

Update : I didn't watch, but didn't need to. The news gave it blanket coverage. In fact only a couple of hours later I'm sick of the sight of the odious rat faced fascist.

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