The BNP are an abhorrent body, favouring a dangerous ideology with roots in Nazism. After a recent tour of the Auschwitz-Birkenau camps, my hatred for National Socialism is unrelenting. However, the extended mass hysteria following Griffin’s appearance, itself generated unprecedented publicity for the BNP and allowed Griffin to appear as the victim. Had the BBC denied the BNP a slot on Question Time, the effect would have been to intensify this further and allow the party to garner greater sympathy.
Ken Livingstone argues that “fascist political parties advance if they enter the mainstream of political life” and thus should be blocked from the proportional treatment other small parties enjoy. This socialist idea that groups we oppose should not be allowed to voice their opinions, that the iron fist of government is needed to control thought, is the ideology of totalitarian governments such as the NSDAP itself. Ken Livingstone and his supporters at ‘Unite Against Fascism’ actually are advocating a core part of the doctrine of totalitarian dictatorship, whether this is called fascism or communism. Freedom is the best antidote to evil.
Freedom of speech is an inalienable right derived from self ownership, and on utilitarian grounds: a group may have at some force behind their arguments, or expose flaws in those of others. Even if you believe, as I do, that BNP’s ideology has no legitimacy at all, they still have a right to be wrong. Free speech helps to exposes the underbelly of Nazism within the BNP. Rather than appearing as the victim of censorship and mob violence, it shows people directly why their ideas are so wrong.
The best way to fight fascism is not to copy its methods but to give it the freedom to expose and destroy itself.