Friday 23 October 2009

Word of the week: Freedom of Speech

The BNP were granted a spot on Question Time this week, in the face of protests and outrage from the public despite the fact that the BBC have a “responsibility of due impartiality” to allow the party airtime because of its Euro vote.

As the issue has escalated, publicity for the BNP is on the up. But with an increase in BNP popularity allegedly causing spikes in racial attacks, where is the line between freedom of speech and giving the BNP a sense of legitimacy? Opinions were starkly divided and while many did not agree that the party should be given a platform to voice their policies, if the BBC, as an impartial media outlet, begins to censor political stories it could have important repercussions for future political reporting and public trust in the BBC itself. Surely it is not the BBC’s place to tell the public what political views it should and shouldn’t listen to? And this certainly provided a forum for the public to openly challenge the party on its policies. And challenge, the public did with Mr Griffin providing weak and outrageous arguments in his defense. What the papers do agree on today, is that the appearance did not do the BNP any great favours and the vast majority of educated, open minded members of the British public are enraged by Mr Griffin’s words.

The key risk, however, comes if people with no particular affiliation to any political party and who do not consider themselves racist, hear the BNP’s arguments and find themselves agreeing with some of their other policies. If this starts to happen, giving the BNP a voice in the media could be very dangerous indeed.

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