Freedom of speech is one thing, but, as the old cliche goes, it’s not ok to shout fire in a crowded theatre. BNP leader Nick Griffin’s comments are exactly that, a false claim that could wind up causing people’s death or injury. He said that:
“If they get a non-Muslim girl and they get her pregnant, then her community doesn’t want her, and the child generally grows up a Muslim and that’s the way this wicked, vicious faith has expanded from a handful of cranky lunatics about 1,300 years ago….”
“Now those 18, 19, 20, 25-year-old Asian Muslims who are seducing and raping white girls in this town right now, they’re not particularly good Muslims, they drink and all the rest of it, but still part of what they are doing comes from what they are taught is acceptable…”
Gordon Brown put the need for stronger racial hatred laws on the table, saying: “Any preaching of religious or racial hatred will offend mainstream opinion in this country and I think we have got to do whatever we can to root it out. If that means that we have to look at the laws again, I think we will have to do so.”
This is certainly welcome. It will be important to draft any new laws carefully. Freedom of speech must be safeguarded and that includes the freedom to criticise religions. But it can’t be impossible to draft a law that makes it illegal to use inflamatory language to provoke people in hotspots like Keighley.
As ever, Jon Cruddas has hit the nail on the head in pointing out that we do need new laws, but that alone is not enough.
We need better laws in place, but we also need to rebuild local parties so that we can confront the BNP wherever they push their ugly politics
He’s also very well profiled in the Telegraph developing the argument a bit.
“The BNP thrive in areas where people feel forgotten by the mainstream parties. There are signs that the fascist party is becoming a home for many disgruntled former Labour voters.”
“Some communities have been badly affected by a decline in traditional industries, a shortage of affordable housing and changing migration patterns. Society is becoming fragmented. There is also widespread disillusionment and distrust with party politics. Decision-making is becoming removed from local communities and voters are feeling increasingly powerless.”
That’s a key point. It’s vital that we make a political change to wipe out the causes of fascist parties as well as just cracking down on the parties themselves.
We also need a bit of moderation from some members of the Cabinet too (stand up Harriet Harman and Jack Straw), who would do well to stop posturing on veils. They are not racist but their rhetoric only goes to strengthen the racists’ case.
As Cruddas says:
We have to be honest in saying that the debate over the veil, talking tough on immigration and race or the language used in the `war on terror’ does not reassure people but actually makes the situation worse. It creates fear, tension and suspicion. It divides communities and plays into the hands of extremism.