There is a weekly BBC Current Affairs program that is shown every Thursday here in the UK. It is called Question Time and basically consists of four panellists who take it in turns to answer questions asked by members of a live studio audience. The questions are topical and mostly political in nature.
Tonight’s edition has caused an immense amount of controversy with howls of protest coming from all quarters of the British establishment. The cause of this anger stems from the decision by the BBC to invite the leader of the Far Right party, the BNP (British National Party) to be one of the panellists.
The man in question is Nick Griffin, a Cambridge educated fascist. He became leader of the BNP in 1999 and this year he shocked the political world by actually winning his contested seat to become a European Member of Parliament for North West England. The BNP won another seat and garnered just under a million votes in total.
It was under this pretext that the BBC saw fit to invite Griffin on to their program. The BNP they argue is no longer an extremist fringe group but a political party with elected representatives.
Earlier today when the show was being recorded, there were large anti fascist demonstrations outside the BBC studios with demonstrators trying to break in.
So what is my opinion? Should Nick Griffin have been banned from appearing?
I am reminded of the words of Voltaire, a famous French Philosopher “I may not agree with what you say but i will defend to the death your right to say it”. Indeed Free speech is the corner stone of any democracy and the minute we start banning people for simply exposing their beliefs and views, no matter how objectionable, then that is when democracy truly dies.
And the real fascists will have won.