Irving and Griffin at the Oxford Union (2)

Further to my previous post, I watched Newsnight.

Luke Tryl was interviewed and said that censorship wasn’t working and we needed to give Irving and Griffin a platform so that their views could be opposed. This is not what he said before – he said they would not be given a platform “to extol their views”. But how can a set of views which are not extolled be opposed? Either everyone limits themselves to talking about free speech, or Irving and Griffin are muzzled while Evan Harris and Ann Atkins take pot shots at them for their racist views, or Irving and Griffin get to extol their racist views after all. I’m sure Luke Tryl was flustered – there were a lot of fascist-smashers baying at his door, but he gave the impression of a man who has made a bad mistake.

There was a good turn-out of fascist-smashers and one of them made the best point in defence of a no-platform policy – how nonsensical it is to host a debate with people who want to end debate with gay people, immigrants, Jews etc. Even George Galloway took the opportunity to turn up and be ostentatiously concerned that Jews might get their hats knocked off and Muslim women their hijab ripped, but considering everybody knows that he deliberately ignores racism not of the jackbooted hook-cross insignia variety, and there’s more than a bit of homophobia in his Respect Renewal, it was a bit panto. The president of the Oxford Student Union condemned the decision to give Irving and Griffin a platform. But nobody tried to point out that they were supposed to be talking about something else.

The reporter said she had spoken to Griffin earlier and he had been “delighted” to have landed a slot at the Oxford Union.

The protesters disrupted things to the extent that Griffin and Irving were split and had to speak in different rooms to different groups. What happened to Harris and fourth panellist Ann Atkins is anybody’s guess.

Nobody at all seemed to be trying to say that the debate itself was about free speech.

My question is still whether they were boosted or refuted.

More tomorrow, I dare say. Meanwhile, the Guardian scrambled something.


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