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Live! - Opinion

This article is an opinion piece and should be taken as such. It is highly likely to be biased, but either the article itself or the ensuing discussion will probably be entertaining. Live! takes no editorial line on opinion pieces.

Fascism at Oxford?

Nov 26 2007 19:01
Andrew Holland
As Nick Griffin and David Irving prepare to talk at Oxford Union, Live! takes a look at the controversy surrounding the debate.
Nick Griffin - should we give him a platform from which to shout him down, or just try and shut him up?

Freedom of speech. It is mentioned time and time again as one of the inalienable rights of man. But is it a right? Can speech be censored? Should there be limits on what we can say?

The subject has recently been in the news again. As I am sure you have heard, Nick Griffin, the leader of the far-right British National Party, and David Irving, a controversial historian who was jailed in Austria for Holocaust denial (and also a former student of Imperial College) have been invited to a debate at Oxford Union tonight. The subject of the debate is, ironically enough, freedom of speech. The invitation has caused controversy: protests are planned for tonight by anti-fascism groups, and several other invitees to the debate, such as the defence secretary Des Browne are boycotting it.

The invitations are at best naïve by the Oxford Union debating society, and are at worst a shameless stunt to get publicity for power hungry Oxford wannabe politicians. The entire debate has turned into a farce and has divided the society. As one insider, speaking about Oxford Union president Luke Tryl (who is said to see himself as a future prime minister) "He has sacrificed so many great guests, simply for the sake of a fascist and a Holocaust denier to speak."

Nick Griffin and David Irving have the right to say or publish what they like, however wrong it is. But they should not be allowed to use a world renowned establishment as a front for their views. Putting them on the same platform as reputable MPs only gives creditability to their views. I can think of nothing they could offer towards a debate on free speech, except maybe to offer them up as an example of why it is not always a good thing to have. Oxford Union needs to have a good look at themselves, and ask themselves what they were thinking when they invited them.

It should be taken into account that withdrawing the invitations of Nick Griffin and David Irving now would be playing into their hands. They would appear of martyrs to their supporters, which is exactly as they would like to appear. It is better to get them out into the open, where the rest of the world can hear how ridiculous they are. In an open debating forum they would not stand a chance. It would be better to let them say their piece, make their points, and finish the whole mess as soon as possible.

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Discussion about “Fascism at Oxford?”

The comments below are unmoderated submissions by Live! readers. The Editor accepts no liability for their content, nor for any offence caused by them. Any complaints should be directed to the Editor.
Nov 26 2007 19:21

It'd sure be nice if you spellchecked the headline... "Facism", indeed.

Nov 26 2007 19:24

My bad!

3. hmmmm   
Nov 26 2007 20:11

seems to me that oxford hacks are even more right wing than imperial ones!!!

Nov 26 2007 21:28

But is it a right? - Yes

Can speech be censored? - Yes but it shouldn't

Should there be limits on what we can say? - No

At least given freedom of speech we can identify the source of moronic ideas.

Nov 26 2007 21:49

Protestors forced their way into the building, and staged a sit down. Debate called off.

Nov 27 2007 08:45

Actually only delayed. Useless bbc.

Aug 04 2008 17:57

those protestors need to find a job. Theyre a waste of space...If they dont like what they're debating about then they can just turn a deaf ear towards it, the same goes for animal rights protestors when they protest against medical research on animals. if they really want to change something they should think of a better way than just to stand outside the building and hold up poxy signs....

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