Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

More on Free Speech and Holocaust Denial: Updated

By bizarre coincidence, CG’s timely and provocative diary about Holocaust denial and Facebook, has raised issues of free speech which are a hot button issue today in the UK.

BNP leader Nick Griffin has been pelted with eggs and forced to abandon a press conference outside Parliament.

Dozens of protesters disrupted the event, which follows the British National Party winning its first two seats in the European Parliament.

Chanting anti-Nazi slogans and holding placards they surrounded Mr Griffin as he was bundled into a car.

Mr Griffin was elected for the North West region – a result condemned by parties across the political spectrum.

Mr Griffin and Andrew Brons, who was elected in the Yorkshire and Humber region, staged a press conference on College Green, opposite the Houses of Parliament.

The BNP leader began the event by holding up copies of national newspapers and talking about what he said were media lies about him and his party.

BBC video here. Guardian video here

Just for some background, Griffin is a holocaust denier and believes ‘non whites’ should be forcibly repatriated, as this video from a decade ago makes clear.

Was Griffin’s right to free speech outside the Houses of Parliament (he has been elected to Strasbourg by the way) infringed by the Anti Fascist protesters?

In our discussions about Holocaust denial on Facebook the rights to free speech were ably and eloquently recommended. But though I disapprove of the egg throwing (a common occurence with all politicians here) I would suggest that noisy protest is a form of free speech too.

Free speech cuts both ways – the right to air an opinion, the right to protest against that opinion.

There are some specifics about the BNP’s avowed racism, and the history of anti racism in the UK, which might make the nuances different, so you can see the different way this is played out in the UK on a Labourlist diary (where I blog under my real name ‘Peter Jukes’).

Let’s see some free speech about free speech!

UPDATE: [UPDATE] Because of the bizarre way this has played out on DKOS, where I suspect it has become caught up in some covert I/P debate, I ought to stress that the BNPs main target these days are the Pakistani/Kashmiri/Bengali populations in the old mill towns of the North – that’s were their votes were gathered.

As equal opportunity bigots the British fascists have moved on from Jews (30s) to Blacks and Irish (40s to 70s) to Asians (80s and 90s) to all Muslims post 9/11. They really represent a smorgasbord of hate, and currently exploit Islamophobia as their main traction to electoral success.



  1. I remember vividly marching to a Rock Against Racism concert in 1979 through the East End of London. I was basically going to see the Clash, the Jam and Steel Pulse play. It was a very mixed crowd, and we passed a pub where 50 or so skinheads were standing making a Nazi salute. They were protected by a police cordon, understandable in the circumstances.

    They weren’t making an argument, they were declaring an allegiance. By booing and heckling them as Nazis, we were making ours.

    Free speech is about rational debate.

    But not everything is about debate. Sometimes people have to vote with their feet, or upraised arms, or shouts. That’s called the right to protest, and is as important as the right to free speech in my experience.  

  2. as to the BNP – whoa. how did they get elected?

    as to the free speech/facebook/holocaust denial thing, in my research i read a guardian piece and it basically points out and that this debate (FB) is largely the direct product of US’s conflicted relationship with morals.

    americans tend to be  puritanical when it comes to sexuality, yet hold fast to the right of free speech. essentially what this says is that it’s wrong to see a nipple, but suggesting the death of millions of people – and calling them snakes and liars – is merely a conspiracy story and is acceptable within the limits of freedom of speech. so FB’s strange distinctions perhaps are reflective of the culture of its owners rather than of any legal and inalienable rights.

    i mean not allowing pornography or nudity is censorship. so the argument of ‘much as i deplore what XYZ says, they have a right to free speech.’ yet allowing or justifying limits on sexuality or nudity seems like a blatant double-standard.

  3. louisprandtl

    Powell’s Rivers of Blood speech

    As I look ahead, I am filled with foreboding. Like the Roman, I seem to see “the River Tiber foaming with much blood”. That tragic and intractable phenomenon which we watch with horror on the other side of the Atlantic but which there is interwoven with the history and existence of the States itself, is coming upon us here by our own volition and our own neglect. Indeed, it has all but come. In numerical terms, it will be of American proportions long before the end of the century. Only resolute and urgent action will avert it even now. Whether there will be the public will to demand and obtain that action, I do not know. All I know is that to see, and not to speak, would be the great betrayal.

    The dark side of Britain..

    Personal Note: I’ll be in Kensington in 2 weeks time.

  4. is simply that, a legacy issue. I seriously doubt that the majority of Americans were outraged by Janet Jackson’s nipple showing on broadcast television. It’s not as if there is a shortage of nudity or porn available in the U.S. It is more a matter of the majority not feeling passionate about nudity (sorry for the pun).  

  5. This group comes up when you search.  It’s title is so offensive I won’t bother repeating it, enter if you dare.  In the group there are a couple brave souls sparring with the holocaust deniers.

    In this group there is a link to this video, a faux documentary providing “evidence” of the jewish conspiracy to create the Holocaust myth.  At about twelve minutes in there is a section of WWII era film showing that concentration camps were lovely and happy places to be.

    To stay on topic I’m going to restrain myself from simply launching into attacks on these useless asshats (almost) but I have to throw at least one out there: at the beginning of the historical section of the video the narrator admits that “hundreds of thousands of people were rounded up” and skips right past why or whether that was right or wrong – convenient.

    I’m glad I got to see some of that video.  It is educational to see what arguments these limp penises are using and it makes refining specific rebuttals possible.  If this was only available to current Holocaust deniers to show to their potential recruits it would be impossible to create specific and convincing debunking of it.

    The group should be more effectively “infiltrated”.  If you look back a page in the comments from this moment you will see the couple folks actively arguing with the racist real members of the group, so obviously it is a forum ripe for active engagement.  A productive use of time for folks who want to dedicate some cycles to battling Holocaust Deniers would be to join the group and make sure that there were always several well reasoned, calm and specific rebuttal comments on every page refuting every bullshit point these lamers put up.

    In short, as much as the first look at this crap is physically repulsive, after a few minutes it is nothing but the same old boring lightweight BS and at least as useful in debunking Holocaust Deniers as it is in denying the Holocaust.  In fact, if a group of people like this one had all joined the group and spent as much time writing and posting appropriate (calm, intelligent, information-rich) comments to the group we might have debunked this crap to a couple of folks who might have otherwise wandered closer to the HD losers.

  6. creamer

    Dr. Tiller and a security guard, Stephen Tyrone Johns, are dead at the hands of pschyco’s with guns. Dr Tiller by a man who listen to extreme Christian hate speech, Mr Johns by a man who follows a philosophy that lead to the Holocaust.

    So for all of the philosophical arguments so ably presented on both sides, we have a little reality.

    The question I have, is do we need to explore the trade off of collective safety versus individual rights?

  7. creamer

     I agree that its about were to draw the line. Neo-Nazi’s promote a philosophy of violence, I think our law enforcement needs to change their approach.

    I also find the “people die” argument supprising. Allowing people to die because “that’s what they do” seem’s kinda cold. If we applied that sentiment to health care we could save a ton of money. Hell, we could use that logic to dismantle the whole social safety net.

    I do appreciate everyone here putting up with my spelling and grammar. I know I’m lacking.

  8. Shaun Appleby

    Points for prescience:

    The white supremacist gunman who shot dead a guard at the Holocaust museum in Washington D.C. had attended meetings of the American Friends of the British National Party, it emerged today.

    James W. von Brunn, an avowed anti-Semite, burst into the museum in the American capital and fired a rifle, killing Stephen Tyrone Johns, a security guard.

    Kaya Burgess – White supremacist gunman James W. von Brunn had links to BNP The Times 12 Jun 09

    Your diary was not only timely and appropriate but spookily insightful.

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