I personally am of divided opinion. I've never had any truck with the foolish No Platform policy...I've always felt the batshit insane and hilarious things the BNP wants to do should be publicized far and wide. Some people think that is me having too much faith in the political system and people's ability to think critically, but if its in the open, then its up for debate, and in a Web 2.0 world, its very easy to create a debate. I'm also what some Guardian columnists might call a "free speech cultist" but fuck them. Having principles, as twisted and few though they are was never meant to be easy.
Furthermore, the blogging service is offered to everyone. Unlike say, The Guardian or London Times' websites, where signing up entails a profile that allows you comment, but not add your own articles (relying on invitation for the non-journalists to be given a stage) signing up to the Torygraph service is like signing up to Blogger, in that its not restricted to anyone so long as the Terms of Service are not broken.
On the other hand, I think people have a point when they say that the Torygraph is not like Blogger. It after all, purports to be a news site, and in having an doors open policy (ironically, something the BNP frequently complains this country's immigration policy amounts to), it could easily be abused, while also lending legitimacy to people like Barnbrook, who want to court the Torygraph readers while gaining a degree of respectability for having their logo in the top left corner of the screen. Blogger, unlike the Torygraph, does not have an editorial line, nor does it purport to be a news site, only a blogging service.
Over the past few months especially, I've been reading David Neiwert's excellent blog, Orcinus, and it has helped me clarify some of my own thoughts on fascism in the current context, and especially on the relationship between fascist movments, infiltration of the respectable right and the role of media in all this. His analysis is of course rooted in a US context, but I believe it is still nonetheless useful.
His comments (PDF file, 640 KB) on transmission between the far right and conservatives are interesting
Ideas and agendas began floating from one sector to the other in increasing volume around 1994. I noticed it first in the amazing amount of crossover between between militia types and the anti-Clinton vitriol out of D.C. that eventually built into the impeachment fiasco....This crossover is facilitated by figures I call “transmitters” — ostensibly mainstream conservatives who seem to cull ideas that often have their origins on the far right, strip them of any obviously pernicious content, and present them as “conservative” arguments.
Obviously the most prominent media personalities responsible for such behaviour in the UK would be the likes of Melanie Phillips and Richard Littlejohn, whose rants often hit upon the codewords and phrases of the far right, their fears of an alien outsider plotting to take over the country (whether its the EU or Muslims) and the descent of the country into anarchy because of civil liberties, secularism and liberalism in general and how we are all "going to hell in a handcart" because of it.
And of course, transmissions by their very nature go both ways. The reasons for the likes of the above to do such things are obvious - it widens their audience and gets them a certain about of talked about noteriety. I don't believe such people are fascists - only that they pander to it to increase their reading figures and to appear outrageous without stepping over any definitive lines.
The problem is then, that such ideas get normalized within right-wing discourse and become acceptable - making the mainstream right more radicalized and ripe for infiltration by extremist elements. The memes become talking points which filter back into perception and eventually policy. And that is the role Richard Barnbrook and his "fellow travellers" on the Telegraph will also be taking. While they are not de jure supported by the Telegraph in any way, de facto, their presence on the site will be taken that way by their supporters and, as we have seen already in some of the blogosphere reactions, their detractors too.
You can expect many more thinly veiled rants about the evils of liberalism and immigrants and darkies and homosexuals to come from Richard Barnbrook, and supported by his on-site sycophants (who have already made their presence felt, despite Barnbrook himself only having 3 articles up). The question is, of course, will the Torygraph readers let this slide, or will they actively try to debate and undermine Barnbrook? That is where the focus should be, I believe. I'm still not comfortable with him having a place on the site, for the above reasons, but I'm not against it simply because of the above reasons either. I still believe that his pathetic political views should be combatted by debate, and not censorship, but that doesn't mean I don't think the previously stated worries are not valid, only that I hope they do not turn out to be the case.
And, because I couldn't pass up the chance to showcase some of Barnbrook's frothing at the mouth articles, a few quotes from the good Cllr:
I have no time for these liberals. I despise them.....not for their person, but for their values....for everything that they believe in, although I am not so sure that they even believe it. I am talking about all these dirty politicians and journalists who sit in their homes smoking their drugs and telling themselves they have made Britain better. Well its not. Its a cess-pit and its the young people who have to swim in its filth. Only the dead make the news but there are hundred who are stabbed but only just live. Their lives are wrecked though in many cases. This is liberalism......these are the great values of the left.........they smoke drugs and your children get slaughtered in the streets. It makes me sick. It drags me down into tombstone politics when I would rather be building a better society. It has become so normalised that people think they have to accept it. Well I am going to change it....I am going to clean up the streets, because our society has had enough of their dirty values, their dirty ideas, and their dirty politics.
I have had enough of political correctness. I have had enough of people being afraid to actually say what they really want to say. Yes....It is the immigrants. Labour closed down free speech and criminalised people for telling the truth. Well Labour are in a state of total collapse.
Soon they will be finished and not a moment too soon. Nobody needs to listen to them anymore. The Police chiefs should simply ignore them and not follow orders to boost statistics by criminalising motorists. The real crime is on the streets, and it is the young people who are being attacked every day now by knives and guns.
Well let me tell you that times are changing. This is our city and we are going to take it back. We are going to take all the weapons of the streets even if that means sending in the Army to do it.
The do-gooder liberal human rights lawyers can scream all they want. Human Rights to me, means people being safe to walk down the street. Liberalism to me, means being free from knife and gun attacks. A free society is one where the police can do their job the way they want to do it.
And to think....this moron actually got a lot of votes. *Sigh*...