Sunday, 17 April 2011

Hate crime and the BNP

As noted in the Sunday Herald, the British National Party has been reported to the Electoral Commission over race hate claims in its literature for the forthcoming Scottish elections.

It's an encouraging intervention, one that will, hopefully, see the BNP pursued through the courts.

The BNP election leaflet includes this malicious and fatuous statement:
"No more mosques!  There are already more Muslims in Britain than Scottish people."
Besides the facile 'logic' of such claims - as though there aren't any Muslim Scots - this looks like a clear incitement to religious and racial hatred.

There's a belief among some left-liberals that, however odious the message, the BNP should still be permitted to express their views and stand for election.  This is the basic 'freedom of speech' line, insisting that the banning of even such loathsome views is fundamentally illiberal and a slippery slope to further curtailments of civil freedom.

Another, I believe, much stronger, argument against a ban speaks of the reluctance to single-out the BNP when one compares their hateful words with the actual mass war crimes and violence committed by the 'respectable' mainstream parties.

After all, Nick Griffin may be a fascist, but his offences are of the 'petty/juvenile' type when set against the actual part played by Tony Blair and his friends in the murder of over a million Iraqis.

Yet, however valid, this argument still shouldn't preclude legal efforts to expose and prosecute the BNP's hate speech.

If it's morally appropriate to invoke international law in pursuing Blair and his fellow warmongers, it's also, by the same moral token, right to apply available domestic laws against the BNP.  

Preventing publication of such language, banning far-right parties and arresting their leaders will never, of course, eradicate the politics of hate.  That goes much deeper than the BNP.  The same kind of racist messages are being brazenly repeated in the Daily Mail, while 'humanitarian' politicians like David Cameron continue to speak of immigrants as some kind of sub-human problem.

Yet, without public resistance, including legal challenges, to such naked incitement, that kind of hate can only fester and spread.   


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