No, They Shouldn’t

Marsha Singh wants the Conservatives to heed the petition from some people in Bradford to ban a proposed EDL march. What they should do, of course is ignore it.

The EDL is a racist, anti-Muslim organisation that is coming to Bradford with the sole intention of whipping up tensions and trying to provoke a riot. It is made up of football hooligans, racists and even former loyalist paramilitaries who are now living in England.

Well, they are certainly anti-Muslim and what is wrong with that? What is wrong with being anti a crackpot religion? It hurts no one to openly dislike a daft belief system and in a liberal democracy, we should be allowed to openly express our opprobrium. Or can people not be anti-Scientology now, either?

I don’t know about the rest of Marsha’s list, though. Even if true, so what? Do we now ban freedom of speech because we don’t like the people saying it? As for a riot, the event will be policed. If people break the law, then they will (one hopes) be arrested, charged and face the courts for any riotous behaviour.

The call for a ban has not been taken lightly. We live in a democracy where the right to protest is fundamental but with rights come responsibilities and there has to be limits on people who set out to terrorise, frighten and provoke trouble.

Um… So far, all we have is a plan to march. There is not, so far as I am aware, a plan to riot. If it develops into a riot, then those responsible may be arrested, charged and prosecuted. That 10,000 people in Bradford are nasty little authoritarian bansturbators is not justification for a ban. Yes, we live in a democracy. We live in a democracy that has at its heart, basic civil liberties; the right of assembly, the right of free speech, freedom of association, the right to practice whatever religion one pleases (or no religion) and the right to protest.

If these 10,000 people do not want the march (around 5% of the adult population, Marsha tells us – which means that 95% presumably don’t care enough to sign the petition), then stay away from the route and exhort others to do likewise. Indeed, ignoring it on a grand scale is the best approach to these silly marches anyway. Unfortunately, there are enough immature idiots looking for a scrap who will do their best to turn it onto a rout. The anti-fascist fascists in the UAF being first among such equals.