Author Topic: Griffin and Irving speak at Oxford Union, S***storm ensues  (Read 1588 times)

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Offline Daxx

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Griffin and Irving speak at Oxford Union, S***storm ensues
« on: November 27, 2007, 08:27:29 am »
This is an issue which has made international press, but it's something close to me because I was part of the press covering the event last night.

Basically, a debate was scheduled to be held at the Oxford Union, a private members only (though most of the university are members) club about Free Speech. This stems from an issue which arose when Nick Griffin, leader of the British National Party, was denied an interview on my radio station Oxide Radio last year by the Oxford University Student Union (the left leaning union to which all students automatically belong) who at the time had editorial control over our content.

Nick Griffin and David Irving (historian and holocaust denier) were invited to speak last night, and basically a complete s***storm erupted. Protesters gathered en masse and ended up delaying the debate by an hour because in addition to completely clogging up the entrance a few broke in and had to be removed from the Union premises. When people were let in for the debate, they ended up being physically assaulted and abused by protesters.

From Wikinews: "Luke Tryl, president of the Oxford Union, defended the decision to allow Irving to speak, saying that the purpose of the debate was to discuss the limits of free speech, not to give the speakers a platform from which to endorse their views. Ned Temko, chief political correspondent of The Observer, disagreed, saying, "It's not a question about giving them a platform, it's about giving them credibility.""

What do you think? Where does free speech in civilised society end, if indeed it does? What do you think about the views of these two speakers? Was this no more than a publicity stunt by the Union? And was the protesters' behaviour just as bad?

Links:
http://en.wikinews.org/wiki/Students_protest_Holocaust_denier%27s_appearance_at_Oxford_debate
http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5jj75XTKlNiXE4f8wgOZM2YT69Hzg
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nick_Griffin
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Irving
« Last Edit: November 27, 2007, 08:59:49 am by Daxx »



Offline Krakow Sam

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Re: Griffin and Irving speak at Oxford Union, S***storm ensues
« Reply #1 on: November 27, 2007, 08:36:21 am »
I think the speakers have every right to speak, however wrong their views may be. However, everyone else also has a right to turn up and raise hell about it.
Sam is basically right, he's just cranky.

Offline Mr. Consideration

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Re: Griffin and Irving speak at Oxford Union, S***storm ensues
« Reply #2 on: November 27, 2007, 08:41:14 am »
Everyone has a right to say whatever they want, but I think I then have an equal right to say something back.
Warning - while you were reading a new reply has been posted. You may wish to review your post.

Beaten to it.

Although, I wouldn't go as far as to invite them.
"Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone elses opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation." - Oscar Wilde

Yes, I am aware of the irony.

Offline Kishmond

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Re: Griffin and Irving speak at Oxford Union, S***storm ensues
« Reply #3 on: November 27, 2007, 11:27:56 am »
Everyone has their right to speak, views, etc. Anyone can say, "Well I don't like this guy". What we do not have the right to do is raise hell about it.
Yeah, [Kishmond] came back from Africa, but the ponies have him now.

Offline Daxx

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Re: Griffin and Irving speak at Oxford Union, S***storm ensues
« Reply #4 on: November 27, 2007, 11:59:36 am »
It strikes me that physically assaulting people and disrupting events using physical presence seems awfully reminiscent of fascist tactics. Not sure whether some of the protesters recognised that irony.

Offline Mr. Consideration

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Re: Griffin and Irving speak at Oxford Union, S***storm ensues
« Reply #5 on: November 27, 2007, 12:24:10 pm »
You're right, bizarre how the fascist BNP is having to defend it's Freedom of Expression from Liberal students.

"Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone elses opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation." - Oscar Wilde

Yes, I am aware of the irony.

Offline /lurk

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Re: Griffin and Irving speak at Oxford Union, S***storm ensues
« Reply #6 on: November 27, 2007, 03:09:17 pm »
This entire thing's gone very badly - all that's come out of it is free publicity for the BNP.

Bah.
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Offline stuck

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Re: Griffin and Irving speak at Oxford Union, S***storm ensues
« Reply #7 on: November 27, 2007, 05:11:01 pm »
I read the story (rather, Daxx's post) and couldn't help but think of democracy. They were allowed to share their views (and in my belief had every right to), but The People had different ideas. We have total freedom and control, but only to the extent allowed by the mob. Is there anything more democratic than this? I think the system worked out perfectly in the end.

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Where does free speech in civilised society end, if indeed it does?

My answer follows from before, free speech is only as limited as the people want it to be. Theoretically our freedom is unlimited. However, if people believe that another's speech is inflammatory or just plain evil, they will make it their job to silence it. Still, they live peacefully knowing that their own speech will only be silenced by the opinions of a majority, not an autocratic few.

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What do you think about the views of these two speakers?

Most here will agree that both of the speakers are incredible biased and brutish. They both deny the Holocaust and support reactionary policies despite contradictory evidence. I do not profess to have heard their arguments before, but it is hard to imagine them being something other than emotionally charged. Furthermore, it is interesting that Oxford tried to pit to people of the same views in a debate. From what I've read about the story, the details seem ambiguous. Where these two supposed  to debate one another, or be pitted against regular Oxfordites? In the former, I could hardly imagine the "debate" to be anything but an exchange of ideas. If the latter, I would have been interested in reading a transcript of the debate.
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And was the protesters' behaviour just as bad?

Protesters have the uncanny ability to be ironic, despite all odds. But their irony proved several key points, and that alone is enough.

Offline Daxx

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Re: Griffin and Irving speak at Oxford Union, S***storm ensues
« Reply #8 on: November 27, 2007, 05:15:21 pm »
Where these two supposed  to debate one another, or be pitted against regular Oxfordites? In the former, I could hardly imagine the "debate" to be anything but an exchange of ideas. If the latter, I would have been interested in reading a transcript of the debate.

For safety reasons, the organisers split the debate into two rooms. Lib Dem MP Evan Harris and journalist Anne Atkins were with Irving. Griffin was with two  post-grads, as far as I know.

Offline Luminar

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Re: Griffin and Irving speak at Oxford Union, S***storm ensues
« Reply #9 on: November 27, 2007, 06:29:25 pm »
To be honest, I feel there should be limits here and there on free speech. Leave the majority of it intact and prevent government from having power over it, but in certain cases where it's being abused or becoming majorly disruptive to the lives or well-being of others, someone should be able to step in. Fred Phelps and the WBC is the perfect example of the inch of free speech being taken and turned into an astronomical unit.