BNP acquittal provokes menacing mutterings from Brown
BNP leader Nick Griffin and his young sidekick Mark Collett were cleared of inciting race hatred at a Leeds court yesterday. A BBC documentary, The Secret Agent, had recorded a BNP meeting where Griffin described Islam as a “wicked and vicious faith” and that Muslims were turning Britain into a “multi-racial hell hole”. Collett had addressed the audience, saying “Let’s show these ethnics the door in 2004”.
While the BNP are ignorant scumballs, the court’s decision was entirely correct. Religion and race are not synonymous, and if anyone thinks the Islam is a wicked and vicious faith they are perfectly within their rights to say so. Griffen and Collett’s triumphalist cries of “freedom” are hollow and hypocritical, however, as the BNP were vocal in calling for the “blasphemous” musical Jerry Springer: The Opera to be banned.
The most disturbing outcome of this case is the fact that Gordon Brown, the likely next leader of the Labour Party, was prompted to think out loud about changing the law on race hate.
Any preaching of religious or racial hatred will offend mainstream opinion in this country.
We have got to do whatever we can to root it out from whatever quarter it comes.
And if that means we have got to look at the laws again, we will have to do so.
There is nothing morally wrong with offending mainstream opinion, and to legislate against such a thing is madness.
The sole voice of reason was Lib Dem MP Dr Evan Harris:
Although I am disappointed these members of a racist party were not successfully prosecuted for race hate given their attacks on Asians and asylum seekers, Parliament must resist the temptation for more restrictions on freedom of expression […]
There must be room in a free society to allow even offensive criticism of religions and their followers
Quite. We’ve already been through this whole thing once this year. Let’s not do it again.