3rd May 2012: Disapproving of a law does not mean that I think that people should engage in the conduct prohibited by that law. I have disapproved consistently of all laws providing for the nebulous crime of incitement to hatred. However, I support the existence of laws prohibiting inciting people to violence. Nevertheless, good manners, decency and the penalty of public disapproval should prevent people from making tasteless and offensive remarks about others.
The current Chairman of the BNP was prosecuted in 2005 for describing Islam as an evil religion and for predicting correctly that third generation immigrants would commit a terrorist atrocity. His colleague was prosecuted for comparing immigrants being attracted to our provision of social security to insects being attracted by the light. Neither said or implied that it would be desirable for immigrants or Muslims to be dead. They were eventually acquitted but only after two lengthy trials.
This week, a prominent member of the Establishment Safety Valve Party, (also known as UKIP), the astronomer, Sir Patrick Moore, said in an interview with the Radio Times: “A Kraut is a Kraut is a Kraut and the only good Kraut is a dead Kraut”. This not quite an incitement to violence but it comes fairly close to it.
Sir Patrick did give the interview in his home and there is or was a defence that the words were used in a dwelling house. However, in this case he was speaking in his home, in order that his words could be recorded and published.
I have no wish to see Sir Patrick or anybody else prosecuted for the notoriously imprecise offence of incitement to hatred, although I deprecate his offensive remarks.
What is important is that the law must be enforced equally, without fear or favour. We cannot have a situation in which some people are prosecuted for insignificant comment, whilst others are immune from prosecution for much more serious words. As Sir Patrick Moore might have said (less offensively): “The Rule of Law is the Rule of Law is the Rule of Law”.
Will Sir Patrick be prosecuted? Will the interviewer from the Radio Times, who described Moore as speaking with ‘sincerity’ be prosecuted for giving his words wider currency and speaking of them sympathetically? Will the writer of an article in the Daily Mail who quoted Moore’s views with approval, describing them as ‘forthright’, be prosecuted?
If the answer to these three questions is ‘No’, why was the author of a drunken, offensive and tasteless Twitter article about a critically ill Black footballer prosecuted and gaoled? Why was the woman on the tram who made offensive remarks about foreigners prosecuted? Why were the BNP Chairman and his colleague prosecuted for their remarks in 2005?
The answer is that there are laws that apply to British Nationalists and to ordinary members of the public but these laws do not apply to members of the Establishment or to members of its safety value political parties.