Telegraph gives the BNP blogs

by Jess McCabe // 27 May 2008, 23:38

The Telegraph newspaper is hosting a blog by Richard Barnbrook, councillor for the fascist BNP, we learn from Sunny at Liberal Conspiracy.

I wish this was a joke. Check out the headline for his second post:

"Blame the immigrants". And a national newspaper published it. The only ray of sunshine is that someone - I can only assume a lone voice of reason in the Telegraph offices - seems to have tagged all his posts "racism". Or perhaps he did that himself. Who knows.

Now, it must be said that this blog is hosted on a part of the newspaper's website where anyone can apparently sign up for a blog and write about kittens or espouse their neo-Nazi views - hey! anything goes at "Britain's No.1 quality newspaper website" - but I also found 'Sir John Bull' listed as a 'featured blogger' - you might remember him as the disgraced BNP candidate who thinks rape is no big deal. And, anyway, the Telegraph is responsible for what goes up on its own website.

Comments From You

Alex B // Posted 28 May 2008 at 00:45

I kind of go for the old "give some enough rope" theory here. Alongside - "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."

I mean no-one with a brain listens to someone who says (from the blog) -

"...The last thing they should do is start going to those disgusting lefty therapists for counselling to relive the trauma. Look at that word "therapist" the rapist....and that is what they do....the rape of the mind."

You can't satirise these people, they do it for you!


Anne Onne // Posted 28 May 2008 at 01:03

Ugh, that's something to ruin a week, let alone a day.

The Telegraph should be ashamed of themselves, for giving people and opinions like this publicity. Whilst the BNP, bigoted (well, flat out racist, xenophobic, misogynist and homophobic) as they are have a right to share their opinions in a vague sense, nobody has an undisputed right to sharing their opinions in a hugely public forum such as blogs attached to the website of a national newspaper.

The Telegraph should be as careful whose opinions it publishes on its website as it is who writes in its newspaper, and in both cases, nobody is owed their opinion getting published, and there shoud rightly be widespread criticism of, and not condoning of opinions which incite hatred of marginalised groups of people.

I don't believe in censorship per se (as in, I don't believe in directly banning anybody connected to the BNP from publishing anything in any way shape or form... they're as entitled to start a site or blog as the next person), but this is a situation where I really wish that papers would use their common sense and not lend their name, web traffic and publicity to such harmful hateful writing. A paper chooses which articles to publish or not publish, and that is not censorship, but quality control, and in this case, someone really should have thought better of it.

Surely it must be against some kind of regulation to incite hatred? Most web hosts have those kind of clauses...

Anj Green // Posted 28 May 2008 at 01:23

Maybe his plan to take all the knives off "the streets" involves suspending a giant magnet over London. Mix some iron filings in with some bird feed and, hey, he may catch Road Runner too!

That said, the Telegraph giving voice to somebody on the extreme right-wing is certainly nothing new and these guys seem to *love* being silenced by the "liberal left" and treat it like a power-source. Ultimately, his freedom to publish his opinions is exactly the same as our freedom to bombard his comments by telling him what a w@nker he is.

Yunus Yakoub Islam // Posted 28 May 2008 at 08:16

It's enough to make me chuck up. Not that I blame the Torygraph particularly. It's simply evidence of how far to the right mainstream political discourse has shifted. If Gordon Brown wants to win the next election, he only needs to don a black shirt and make us Muslims wear green crescents. Britain is rapidly becoming a not very nice country.

dan // Posted 28 May 2008 at 11:51

I really think that people who seem to want the mainstream to completely ignore the BNP, and who hold rallies and petitions against them are not being helpful.
Like Alex said give the BNP enough rope and they will destroy themselves, you only have to look at the BNP guy who started mouthing off about rape not being a crime, if he was truely being ignored, if the media and other organistations were just refusing to pay any attention to him then his appalingly stupid views would never have come to light.
I still think debate is the best way to tackle these people and their views, simply ignoring them, protesting etc simply plays into their hands, they can portray themselves as fighting a valiant battle for Britain confronted by a load of communists and people who hate Britain. Treat them as equals (well not equals, but similar to the greens with whom their electoral results put them on a par with) and you take away their main weapons.
Anyone who thinks unemployed working class folk in say Burnley, will be disuaded from the idea of voting BNP because a lot of mostly priviledged students, and some people boasting to be communists are holding a demonstration telling them they are wrong and the BNP are rascist must be mad. Listen to their views, allow them to be aired, and then pick them apart and destroy their credibility. If no one debates with the BNP they can claim its because there is no answer to their arguements.
(sorry that ended up being a much longer comment than I planned)

Jess McCabe // Posted 28 May 2008 at 12:02

dan - I absolutely disagree.

The BNP are not the same as the Green Party, and the difference is nothing to do with number of supporters, it's to do with the fact the Green Party does not propogate hate speech and a directly racist, xenophobic, anti-semitic agenda.

It was important to expose the full range of 'Sir John Bull''s vicious opinions, because he was standing for office; however, the tactic did not stop his 'colleague' getting elected, and indeed allowed him to position himself as a more acceptable candidate. The BNP are already providing us with enough material to deconstruct and rubbish their views and expose them for the hate-mongers that they are; we don't need to give them any more of a platform than they already have to do that.

If you believe that neo-Nazis have no place in political life, the thing to do is to refuse them the oxygen of publicity and attention; to refuse them the standing of equal participants in a debate, because they are not. That is the way they sneak into public life and gain credibility, and seats in elected bodies.

Anne Onne // Posted 28 May 2008 at 12:08

Nobody's asking for the BNP to be ignored here or in feminist circles.
On the blogosphere, we tackle the BNP by rebuffing their points, and pointing out what they really say, and really mean. This is exactly like you say. Point out their crap when they express it, and bring it to attention to people.

It's jsut that there is a lot of difference between letting someone say something harmful, and pointing out that it is harmful, and exactly why they are wrong and dangerous, and giving them a huge platform and the support of the mainstream media. Nobody has the right to a huge platform and saying that we don't think the mainstream media should encourage the BNP and seem to support it is not the same as silencing the party.

Had they taken out their own blog (like the pile of steaming bull that was Sir John Bull), we'd be criticising their opinions, but not their right to have a blog. However, setting up your own blog and being given one by a leading paper are not the same thing - in the latter the paper has the right to discretion over what it allows, and we believe that it should not have allowed something so inflammatory, since there are often rules about the host judging content in most situations. In this case we're not concentrating on the BNP, but the paper.

There's a lot of sadness that the BNP are able to get enough public support, and wondering what this means in terms of the general population. We're not calling for them to be ignored, or we wouldn't be here discussing them and how to tackle them. It's just the only way we can deal with them is to reply to what they say, and point out how awful they are.

Maybe it's because lately I have no belief in the credibility of the media. When the whole furore over admixed embryos was around, a lot of papers were perfectly willing ot ignore and misrepresent science to get their views accross, and instead of educating people so they could make their own decisions, instead acted as propaganda vehicles for the Right. So, for me, unless a paper presents something deplorable in a critical light, I don't think it's good enough. Parroting views as if you agree with them, and then turn around and say 'it's not what we think' if you get criticised? That's cheap.

Marina // Posted 28 May 2008 at 13:09

Maybe that block enjoys been raped personally and trying to invite rapists on to himself :)

John B. Sloop. // Posted 28 May 2008 at 13:56

Free speech will always have to be reponsible comment or it wont work. Giving free speech to every one who wants to gob off is not really the problem. Our failure to admit that free speech gave us Hitler, Stalin and Mugabe is the problem.

The BNP should not have access to responsible periodicals so ergo the Daily Telegraph must be deemed to be irresponsible. Racist, anti-semitic and homophobic remarks being handled by a newspaper as 'free speech' appears to me as a device to get more readers at any cost.

In a viable and peaceful society, the right to vilify any persons chosen lifestyle (providing it is legal) should not be allowed. Giving neo-nazis and their ilk the right to uphold views that nearly destroyed civilised society is a no-no and should remain so.

Sincerely
JB Sloop

Rhona // Posted 28 May 2008 at 16:43

This prompted a wee bit of research...

Newspapers, magazines and internet sites can be accused of 'inciting hatred' by the Obscene Publications Act of 1964 (including recent amendments). I recommend this as a bedtime read, it's a real hoot. Scottish prohibitions on obscene material are to be found in section 51 of the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982.

In addition, incitement to racial hatred is also covered by section 21 of the Public Order Act 1986 which states that it is an offence for a person to publish or distribute material which is threatening or abusive or insulting if it is intended thereby to stir up racial hatred, or having regard to all the circumstances, racial hatred is likely to be stirred thereby (I'm quoting this, I don't use the word 'thereby' quite so often in real life).

The Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006 also makes it illegal to threaten people because of their religion, or to stir up hatred against a person because of their faith. It is designed to fill gaps in the current laws, which makes it illegal to threaten people on the basis of race or ethnic background. This Act extends to England and Wales only.

Aaah, you say, but what of the blogosphere? Surely policing of the internet could give rise to calls of censorship and the oppression of free speech?

Tricky area of the law, according to the chap I spoke to. Fundamentally, inciting either racial or religious hatred (or, indeed, hatred based on gender/ability etc differences) is a criminal offence. Publishing and disseminating online materials that are likely to incite such hatred is also a criminal offence.

Unfortunately, the onus lies on those who were targeted (assuming this is the case) to PROVE that the burden of blame lay with the perpetrator, ie the author and/or publisher - it's the old argument about the 'right-thinking person', blah blah blah.

Personally, I think the wording of the phrase 'materials that are likely to incite such hatred' would be enough to make most people - never mind decent individuals who abhor any kind of bigotry - run a mile from anything like this.

However. Petard. Hoist. Own.

dan // Posted 28 May 2008 at 17:35

re: jess' comment, of course I didn't meen to say the BNP are equal to Greens morally, I was just trying to say that while I think they shouldn't be ignored they certainly shouldn't be given the same publicity as Tories Lib Dems and Labour as their support levels don't deserve it.
And to be honest while I can sympatise with the comment that neo-Nazis have no place in political life, but we live in a democracy, its not up to me personally and exlusively to decide who does and who does not have a place in political life, its for the electorate, and I think debate is the best way to persuade them that voting BNP is not in their best interests.
That said thanks to our somewhat undemocratic system, outside of the London Assembly elections the BNP are absolutly no political force whatso ever thans to First Past the Post, and while they hold council seats, no other parties are willing to work with them. They are in my view an irrelevence, so why I think debate is much more helpful than chanting 'down with the BNP,' in reality I'm not sure people should bother with either. They are an irrelevence.

Liz // Posted 28 May 2008 at 18:45

'personally and exlusively to decide who does and who does not have a place in political life, its for the electorate, and I think debate is the best way to persuade them that voting BNP is not in their best interests.'
The thing is that by presenting the views of the BNP the Telegraph take an active standpoint in favour by giving them a platform. Also there is no such thing really as being apolitical, if you aren't against the BNP then you are for them effectively. It is dangerous to deem such groups an irrelevance, because racism is endemic in society. As you mention above, the electorate has little power in our somewhat undemocratic system.

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