Righteous Indignation on the BBC

No later than June 2010, the UK will have a general election. In Britain, there are three major parties. Labour, led by current Prime Minister Gordon Brown; David Cameron’s Conservatives; and the third-wheel Liberal Democrats, headed by Nick Clegg.

While these three parties dominate Parliament, some fringe parties have taken hold, mostly because of voter apathy and general discontent with Labour and Conservative policies in particular. One of these is the British National Party, or the BNP. The BNP doesn’t hold any seats in Parliament, but has a seat in the London Assembly, seats in smaller councils and two seats in the European Union Parliament. One of these seats went to BNP leader Nick Griffin.

To say the BNP is controversial is putting it mildly. For one thing, its membership is limited to “indigenous Caucasians.” Party members, including Griffin, have a history of Holocaust denial. Its early anti-Semitic views have been replaced with anti-Muslim sentiment. The party is strongly anti-immigration. Its economic policies are protectionist, and reject free-market capitalism. It is, however, gaining ground with white Britons who are gravitating toward the BNP out of either desperation or protest against mainstream parties.

Given the recent electoral success of the BNP, the BBC invited Griffin to be a panelist on Question Time on Thursday. For my American audience, it’s a mix of Meet the Press and a Q&A-style town hall meeting. Some highlights are in the video below.

While I find the BNP’s platform repugnant, equally repugnant — nay, more repugnant — was the protest that stuffed up West London. People carried signs calling Griffin a “fascist” and said the BBC shouldn’t have had him on. I find it ironic that people try to fight “fascism” by engaging in the very fascist-like practice of trying to silence speech they don’t like. If the guy’s ideas are that godawful, that’s bound to come out during the program (er, programme). No one needs them to protect society from big, bad Nick Griffin. The British electorate can watch him and decide for themselves what to think.

If you’re opposed to Griffin and the BNP’s policies, you should want those ideas to come to light and for people to see in the harsh light of day how offensive they are. Keeping people like Griffin from stating their platforms only makes them free-speech martyrs and gives them a mystique they don’t deserve.

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