Yes they really are. They may be twats but should they be banned twats? I’ve been having a discussion on Twitter, it’s not a new discussion, one I have heard many times before and seems to pop up just before every election: Should the BNP be banned?
I, for my sins, cherish freedom of speech above most rights. I think it is the hallmark of our tolerant society that we are not afraid of criticism and are strong enough to endure the most ludicrous of ideas being circulated. Sadly people who share the views of the BNP are always going to lurk in our wings; they are the disenchanted, the disenfranchised and the down right stupid. Yet who are we to tell them how to think? If we accept that we can’t tell someone their thoughts are wrong, we accept that we cannot stop them banding together with like-minded people.
What concerns me is that the minute we ban them we are admitting they are a threat. We have had to use the force of the law to suppress them, drive them underground and make martyrs of them. In many ways I see the BNP as a necessary evil. They are a check and balance, a reflection from a circus mirror – the dark half of ying and yang. These are in many ways worrying times, comparisons can be drawn between now and the death throws of the Weimar Republic. The BNP should be a reminder to us all, more so to our politicians, of what lurks on the fringes.
So we ban them. Who are ‘we’? Whose opinion is it that counts. Ban the BNP and what next? The Socialist Workers Party? The Communist Party? Maybe the Green Party? Under whose measure of acceptability do we operate?
Rather than ban them, look at the people who are being driven into their arms. What are their drivers? If it is pure racism, let them go, you can’t argue with lunatics. But if there is more, and I suspect there is, listen to them. As I said, we now have a class of the disenfranchised, people who have been forgotten and left out of the political process. These people need to be re-engaged.
Voltaire didn’t say: “I disagree with what you say but will defend to the death your right to say it” but if he had have done he would have had a point.