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.

20 Responses to “BNP acquittal provokes menacing mutterings from Brown”

  1. Andy A says:

    Evan Harris says, ‘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 …’

    Er, they were prosecuted. Twice. The jury didn’t reach a verdict the first time, so they were prosecuted a second time. They were not found guilty, that’s all – on both occasions. I hope Evan Harris, usually on the side of the secularist, the anti-censorship brigade, the nonreligious, is not losing the plot. Indeed, we all have to keep our nerve here and not let NuLabour erode our freedoms even further in the back of this. It’s one thing to detest the likes of Griffin and Collett, but we must never, ever fall into the trap of conflating religion with race – even if the BNP bastards want us to do that, and cleverly word their rhetoric to make us do so – and thereby shut the door to perfectly sound, whether robust or not, condemnation of religion (if people wish to indulge in that, and many of us do).

  2. Andrew Nixon says:

    They were prosecuted, but as Harris correctly points out, they were not successfully prosecuted.

  3. Andy A says:

    My onboard dictionary (Encarta/Bloomsbury – I’m sure Oxford says something similar) has prosecute = to take legal action (done); try to prove someone guilty (done – tried, that is, which is all required by the word ‘prosecute’). So they were successfully prosecuted in that the prosecution was carried out. It was the finding guilty that was not ‘successful’ (my scare quotes there are deliberate), if you feel that success = a guilty verdict and failure = a not-guilty verdict, but then you’d have to extend that to all cases.

    They were not successfully convicted – well, not convicted at all, so I suppose that amounts to not successful. But a failure to prosecute would be the failure to bring legal action.

    Due process was observed, even though the odious swine were found innocent. We can’t wish they’d been found guilty if we are to uphold that process of law. All we can do is change the law (but there be dragons). We might wish they’d fallen into a big hole on their way out of the courtroom, but that would be a different kind of justice, not that borne out of the law as we know it and as it should be practised.

    Case rests, milud.

  4. Marc Draco says:

    I even found myself agreeing with Anne Widicomb today on R4’s Any Questions – she said pretty much the same thing. What worries me more is that lilly-livered politicians are now saying we should tighten the law.

    The law’s already tight enough. This is freedom of speech to criticise a religion; if they really mean coloured folk, then they have to say that before it becomes illegal. If we can’t criticise people’s ideas, what chance to we have to change them for the better.

  5. Bartholomew says:

    But is Brown serious? He said the least controversial thing he could, calculating for headlines and voter base. Hardly courageous (and a poor reflection on current society), but these kind of utterances don’t usually go anywhere. I’m still waiting for the sight of the police marching yobs to cashpoints.

  6. aharon says:

    * Regarding “There is nothing morally wrong with offending mainstream opinion..” – Even if someone does happen to think there’s something morally wrong in causing an offence by voicing an idea or an opinion – it doesn’t mean legistlation should follow..

    * I agree that BNP, somehow ironicaly, like some religious speakers, as deprived of humanity and potentialy dangerous their ideas are – should not be allowed to shut up. However, if we take a defensive view which is to guard the freedoms we do have – I think it is inevitable for the process of their errosion will continue as it does… Instead of defence, I think that calling for legistlation that allows to cause offence, that allows each citizen a free access to all information kept about him/her, that allows people to protest anywhere they want (see parliament sq..), etc..
    Maybe legistlation against hypocricy is something to consider as well – as this can allow clearing out a few things…

  7. Nick says:

    Let them have their voice, if people don’t know what they stand for then how can they be critised and mocked. We all should have our right to speech even if you don’t agree with it. Ban free speech and then start burning books.

  8. Andy A says:

    Marc: I found myself agreeing with Widdecombe, too. But I don’t think we should get too worried about such things. I daresay I could find something in Nick Griffin to agree with, too, but that doesn’t mean I’d vote for him. I find so much of what his party stands for odious to the nth degree, not to mention its getting into bed with religionists and/or jumping on their bandwagon. I can go along with a lot of the commonsense things Widdecombe occasionally comes out with, but I then have to keep nudging myself and reminding myself that she’s a raving Catholic superstitionist, and it kinda colours one’s regard for someone. Maybe it shouldn’t – I dunno.

  9. Dan Factor says:

    Censorship will never stop these racists. It will only make them more determined to spread their bile. Nick Griffin loved the fact he got arrested as it gave him and his shitty little party publicity.
    Let’s have the views out in the open so we can take the piss out of these idiots!
    As for the BNP fighting for free speech where was their desire for free speech when they were campaigning with Christians to get Jerry Springer The Opera banned? Hypocrties as well as racists!

  10. Dan Factor says:

    Censorship won’t silence these racist. It will only make them try and act like martys. This trial has given Griffin and his BNP idiots more free publicity. They woulda loved it if he’d been locked up as it would have given them licence to play the martyr victim card.
    Let’s get the views out into the open so we can take the micky out of them. As for the BNP loving free speech… did they love it when they were working with Christians to get Jerry Springer The Opera banned?

  11. Marc Draco says:

    I note the Muslim Lord Ahmed (?) is saying it’s fashionable to have go at Muslims now. So what? I “have a go” at any religious idiot who tries to bend my ear. We are born into our skin, not into our faith – that’s brainwashed in.

  12. Nick says:

    Look, it’s best just to leave them alone in their own putrid shit. They love the publicity.

  13. aharon says:

    “Look, it’s best just to leave them alone in their own putrid shit. ”
    Nick, that’s what I thought, specially regarding religious people. However because of the love of publicity such people demonstrate and get – people like you and me find our public space and freedoms slowly shrinking. Therefore, I think, unfortunate as this might be, they have to be confronted wisely and intelligently.

  14. Nick says:

    I go along whith your arguement until ” wisely and intelligently” I’m sure tha you and me could discuse this wisely and intelligently, but we are talking about fanatical idiots.
    When my kids were young and played up a bit, my wife and I used to laugh at them , then ignore them. Turned out alright. Just treat them as children

  15. aharon says:

    I think that in many ways, your analogy with children is correct. e.g. faith “logic” works like a child’s – if Jane likes chocolate ice cream, as well as strawberry ice-cream, it must be that she likes cheesecakes as well.
    However, unlike children, these guys don’t grow-up, nor grow out of it. I think its a kind of cultural autism – hence it requires more of special needs methods of dealing with..

  16. Nick says:

    You’re quite right, they don’t grow up, but the guys at the top do and then manipulate the children beneath them.(No sexual inuedeo intended). I believe that ridicule or totaly ignoring them is the best form of attack. (Oh I sound a bit wiered there)

  17. Nick says:

    ont worry about the BNP worry about the BBC and thier Islamic Butchering freinds
    wake up Idiots, or get blow up.or better still have your head cut off, Sharia law is comming you liberal organic crunching mugs

  18. Sharia law in Britain? Fat chance, you scaremongering illiterate cunt. Even the most fearmongering poll suggests that around 33%-40% of Muslims support Sharia law, and since Muslims comprise a mere three per cent of the total population, what does that tell you about the support for Sharia? If you answered “there isn’t much support for it”, well done, have a sweetie. If you answered “it meens teh muslims are coming and wee will all be under teh islams!1111”, well done, you are stupid enough to join the BNP.

    All this aside, I do like the fact that we’ve been accused of being pro-Islam on this site now. Considering the number of people we’ve had screeching at us for being anti-Islamic, it reinforces my theory that you can tell when political commentators are doing a good job, as the dickheads and simpletons of both sides come out of the woodwork to criticise you.

  19. Stuart says:

    From something I saw in the Grauniad, maybe we could just lock them in a church and leave ’em to it….

    Apparently Trevor Philips of the CRE was at a meeting organised by the Evangelical Alliance (hope he had a clothes peg on his nose) at which he said that churches should refuse communion to BNP members. The EA’s head witch-hunter Joel Edwards also tried to suggest that the EA themselves were in the front line of the battle against BNP type bigotry.

    Laugh? I nearly crossed myself!

  20. Nick says:

    Hold on. that other Nick isn’t me…..