The BBC’s recently feeling obliged to invite BNP leader Nick Griffin on Question Time has rightly sparked a debate as to whether the ‘no platform’ for fascists strategy has a future.
Some, like the Observer’s Barbara Ellen, have argued that we should encourage a BNP appearance as it would give them rope with which to hang themselves: ‘It’s my guess that the only people left regretting a BNP appearance on Question Time would be the BNP themselves.’
But this is a naive view that underestimates the BNP’s current leadership and forgets the fascists’ willingness to lie. Nick Griffin has proved himself a skilful politician by holding together an unstable political movement with a tendency split and disintegrate without outside help.
Suspending BNP councillors like Richard Barnbrook for lying is likely to be a far more effective tactic. The BNP lies deliberately and maliciously, in the case of Barnbrook to whip up fear of crime, to create a climate of panic in which people might flirt with extremism.
Similarly, Nick Griffin is holocaust denier and this should be enough to ensure he is not invited to appear as a respected guest on flagship BBC politics shows.
Free speech is important, but certain types of speech have never been protected nor should they be. The right of an individual to lie should not be put before the greater good of protecting the public from such lies. Richard Barnbrook behaved like a nutter in crowded nightclub shouting ‘fire’ because the idea of provoking a panic and crush excites him.
The BNP behave this way because hate is an emotional response that pays no heed to facts and figures and dehumanises its targets. In a rage they make things up, while denying inconvenient truths. They have no place in rational debate.