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  • seandodson 8:16 am on October 23, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , BNP, david dimbleby, david duke, far right, , , , , , question time   

    Politics and the English Language and Nick Griffin 

    3309073013_38626089dfI enjoyed watching Nick Griffin flounder of BBC Question Time last night. David Dimbleby handled him beautifully, like an experienced barrister might toy with a petty rogue. He snared Griffin about 14 minutes in, using a speech the leader of the far-right British National Party made (alongside David Duke, leader of the KKK) in the US, where he said:

    “If you put that [expelling non-whites from Britain] as your sole aim to start with you are going to get absolutely nowhere. So instead of talking about racial purity, we talk about identity. We use saleable words: freedom, security, identity, democracy. Nobody can attack you on those ideas.”

    It was over 50 years ago that George Orwell (right) in Politics and the English Language remarked how such words were often used by politicians with the intention to deceive:

    The words democracy, socialism, freedom, patriotic, realistic, justice have each of them several different meanings which cannot be reconciled with one another. In the case of a word like democracy, not only is there no agreed definition, but the attempt to make one is resisted from all sides. It is almost universally felt that when we call a country democratic we are praising it: consequently the defenders of every kind of regime claim that it is a democracy, and fear that they might have to stop using that word if it were tied down to any one meaning. Words of this kind are often used in a consciously dishonest way. That is, the person who uses them has his own private definition, but allows his hearer to think he means something quite different. 

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    • stephen8sz 8:12 am on July 2, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Hey there! I don’t know much about BBC Question Time, or British politics, but I love George Orwell and his peice “Politics and the English Language.” Check out my post sometime about the misuse of the word Democracy too, you might find it interesting 🙂

  • seandodson 9:44 am on June 10, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , BNP, british national party, chinatown, Edmund Burke, , , ,   

    What the BNP election brought home to me 


    And so I arrive in Manchester on the day after the election of the far right British National Party to the European parliament. It’s good to be back North, a place and an idea and a set of traditions that I’ve always been intensely proud of and so, naturally, I feel a heavy note of dismay about such a disastrous result.

    According to some excellent coverage in the Manchester Evening News, the city is awakening to the grim realisation that its allowed Nick Griffin, the party’s leader (who can be seen above being pelted with eggs) as one of the region’s eight seats. David Ottewell, in a strident op-ed piece, summoned up the spirit of Edmund Burke, citing his well-known maxim that “all that is required for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing”. This stuck something of chord with me. Although I couldn’t vote in this region, I had allowed my electoral registration to lapse and, therefore by extension, I am one of the many apathetic millions guilty of allowing this to happen: our inaction and complacency has allowed he far right a legitimate democratic voice.

    I mulled all this over while enjoying a delicious belly of pork at the New Emperor, a Cantonese restaurant, all piped jazz saxophones, polystyrene ceiling tiles and watercolour wallpanels, and wondered what the BNP would do with a wonderful places like this, if they ever got their grip on some real power.

    So it is worth reminding ourselves that the BNP are all about: that it wishes to repatriate all non-ethnic Britons, including owners of Chinese restaurants.  That Andrew Brons, the BNP’s elected candidate for Yorkshire and Humberside, was once belonged to a neo-nazi group whose members were found gulity of firebombing Jewish synagogues; and that Nick Griffin, elected in the North West, believes that the gas chambers found at Dachau, Sachsenhausen, and Majdanek (and hasitly disassembled elsewhere) as a “nonsense” and a “total lie”.

    So, like the egg throwers who pelted Griffin at Westminster today (worth it alone for the image, bottom centre, where Griffin’s pantomime mask of dignity falls from his face), I’ve decided that I can no longer do nothing. It’s been a while since I’ve attended an anti-facist demonstration, but this trip back to the North, and this splendid dinner in one of the quarters most threatened, has really brought the threat of the BNP home to me.



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  • seandodson 7:36 pm on May 19, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , BNP, , , hate laws, , , , , political correctness, , , racism, shane richmond, socrates, , Unite Against Fascism, user-generated content, Weyman Bennett   

    You might quote Socrates, but you can’t spell my name 

    If you’ve got nothing to hide, why hide behind an official spokesperson? If you believe in free speech, why not agree to a proper interview? The morning’s Media Guardian published an article I have been researching for the last few months. Headlined A Platform for Free Speech … or Hate, it examines the Telegraph’s attitude towards some of the more extremist views available on its readers blogs. My investigation has uncovered that the My Telegraph service is being used by members of the British National Party (BNP) to promote their nefarious views. I knew that I would attract a fair bit of heat from the article, as you can’t go around accusing a national newspaper of harbouring the views of the far right, albeit a vocal minority of them, and not expect it to bite back.

    So here goes. One of the card-carrying neo-fascists I mentioned in the article quoted Socrates in his defence (although he couldn’t actually spell my name correctly) on his blog. Many others from the far right called me, and the newspaper I often work for, a lot of nasty names. All as to be expected. Many of them, moreover, also accused me (apparently without reading my article as there comments were published before it was printed) that I was against free speech. I think it goes without saying that I’m not against freedom of speech. I just want to question whether a reputable and recognised brand like the Telegraph (a newspaper I’ve long admired) wants to allow members of the far right to use it as a platform to propagate their extremist views. Of course, it’s not me who is against free speech, but a party that routinely uses violence to support its views; who deny the holocaust and whose leader has been tried twice for incitement to racial hatred (although he did eventually get off). The BNP is also a party that, according to its own constitution, is “committed to stemming and reversing the tide of non-white immigration.”

    I asked Weyman Bennett, national secretary of Unite Against Fascism what he thought of the free speech defence and whether the Telegraph should allow active members of the BNP to use the Telegraph to promote their views. He told me that the British National Party remain far from a legitimate organisation and that he “would assume that the Telegraph would be at pains to condemn the BNP. Instead they are allowing a fascist party to whip up racism and that it needs to recognise that it is not a benign organisation, but threat to anybody who believes in democracy.”

    The communities editor of the Telegraph, Shane Richmond, published a list of my questions on his blog on Friday without my consent. I took such an intrusion into our private correspondence in good humour, but I think it’s a bit rich of him to complain about freedom of speech when he refused both a face-to-face and telephone interview forcing me to send any questions I had via email and to conduct most of his comments over the internet and in public before even reading my article. So one that question again to Shane Richmond: if you’ve got nothing to hide, why hide behind your official spokesperson?

    • FYO 11:41 am on May 20, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Perhaps the Telegraph might want to comment on how advertisers feel about some of the posts published under its brand. Maybe a new strapline; ‘The Telegrapg – Proud To Be Associated with the BNP” might make things clearer for all?

      The same goes for many other poorly moderated sites across the country. Have a look at Newsquest sites for example and see just how reactive moderations works, or fails to work, in practice. One day someone will post something, say an allegation of paedophilia, with personal details, that leads to a serious incident. Will the T&Cs and “reasonable time” for removal of posts (assuming reported) be a suitable defence? Even if legally that stands up – debatable I’d imagine – what damage to the brand? Local news sites are arguably more dangerous – more easy for immediate physical reaction and moderation which as as good as invisible.

    • seandodson 3:32 pm on May 21, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Just received this email from a Mr G Greenwood:

      The obvious solution to newspapers intent of offering user-generated content (Platform for free speech … or hate? 19 May 08) is to require all correspondents, bloggers et al to use their real names. We’ve had enough time to test the concept of anonymous comment and it has failed. With rare exceptions most ‘comment’ represents the unleashed fury of people previously muted by the nature of their opinions or an inability the express themselves rationally and coherently. Now we’ve got a Babel seemingly enraged people shouting at the rest us from the cyber-shadows, able to express their often vile or banal opinions in national newspapers that now appear to equate their hard-earned authority with that of an obscure blog.

      By all means let people say what say think – but only after they’ve shown they’re prepared to put their name to their words

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