Why Nigel Farage deserves his platform

Nigel Farage caricature via Gage Skidmore small

As long as humans live there will always be an instinct to smother dislikeable ideas. And it’s unsurprisingly that some progressives have been emboldened in that pursuit by the sacking of comedian Danny Baker, after he unwittingly made a joke that could be interpreted as racist about the latest Windsor sprog.

That same Thursday many noticed that Nigel Farage, former Ukip leader and now leader of the Brexit Party, was due to appear on Question Time. Nesrine Malik, a Guardian columnist, put it starkly: “Since sacking Danny Baker only yesterday the BBC has hosted Melanie Phillips, Nigel Farage, and now the actual Ben Shapiro.”

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Podcast Ep. 115: Cable Moots Opening Lib Dems To Entryism

Right Dishonourable Lib Dem Entryism

This week we look at at Lib Dem leader Vince Cable’s plans to open the party to entryists, how easy it is to go from vlogger to journalist, and whether it’s okay to hate people because of their politics.

Joining us is our flaky commitment to structured openings.

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Even if we banned Trump the Internet has rendered ‘hate speech’ laws redundant

Donald Trump, July 2015 by DonkeyHotey

The furore over the latest musings of the professional loudmouth Donald Trump has provoked an ironic response from those residing just across the pond from the US.

Those who venture onto the British government’s official petition website will find that at least 340,000 have signed a petition to block the American presidential candidate from entering Britain, at least as of Wednesday night.

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From Cook to Crusader: Bryan Cranston fights for the right to write in Trumbo

Image Credit – From "Trumbo" by Entertainment One UK

The week before Trumbo‘s red carpet screening at this year’s BFI London Film Festival, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden joined Twitter. And though that may be mere coincide, it feels like no accident.

Played by Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston, Dalton Trumbo was an Oscar-winning screenwriter whose career was all but ended after he and other Hollywood figures were blacklisted for their communist beliefs. Trumbo is the true story of his crusade against the American government and studio bosses as he fights for the right to write.

The film captures the frightening horrors of the communist witch hunts that took place as recently as 1975. In Cold War America, believing in communism automatically made you a suspected traitor or terrorist.

In this sense, the movie evokes defenders of free speech and civil liberties today. Both Trumbo and Snowden saw themselves as defenders of of those civil liberties, not as traitors. Liberal Americans like Trumbo had turned to communism before the Second World War, after the Great Depression, worker’s rights and fascism in Europe led liberals, and particularly intellectuals, to question the government.

However it’s worth noting that where Snowden leaked state secrets about the NSA’s spying powers, Trumbo was simply a private member of a legal and recognized political party – one the American government vilified.

In 1947 Trumbo, along with several others, refused to divulge his political allegiances to the congressional House Un-American Activities Committee, protesting: “This is the beginning of an American concentration camp!” As a result, In 1950 Trumbo served an eleven month sentence for contempt of Congress.

Critics of civil liberties activists have always argued that citizens with nothing to hide shouldn’t have a problem with government surveillance and the erosion of privacy. But, in one of Cranston’s brilliant deliveries, Trumbo points out: “You don’t end something like this by giving them what they have no right to ask.”

Perhaps predictably, the film hasn’t been universally well received, with some accusing it of being too biased towards liberal views. Indeed, John McNamara’s script is a scathing satire of political extremists – particularly on the right. The unfortunate effect is that the film is sometimes too kind to the left, portraying conservatives as ignoramuses who have nothing worth saying.

Helen Mirren’s casting as the main antagonist, gossip columnist Hedda Hopper, was a clear attempt to combat this. However Mirren’s character was surprisingly one dimensional: There was a clear sense that Hopper was a formidable, independent woman, but her politics weren’t given a compelling justification.

But perhaps a film favouring the left is appropriate at the moment. Trumbo arrives at a time when socialism has become a dirty word in politics, despite the fact that most Western countries have socialist welfare states or healthcare systems.

The British Labour Party’s Jeremy Corbyn has to convince middle England that his socialist beliefs don’t make him more extreme than Nigel Farage, whilst across the Atlantic, the Bernie Sanders faces a similar task if he wants to beat Hillary Clinton to the Democratic nomination.

Considering that the film deals with such serious themes, it has an incredible levity – one undoubtedly owed to director Jay Roach (whose previous work includes Meet the Parents and Austin Powers). Without a hint of exaggeration, I’d call Trumbo the wittiest film of the year – the screening I went to certainly seemed to achieve as many, if not more laughs than the likes of TrainwreckMe and Earl and the Dying Girl and even Spy.

Trumbo, then, comes highly recommended. I’d be surprised if Cranston didn’t pick up a few award nominations for his work, and the film was a brilliant piece of liberal art. Unapologetically, Trumbo declares that people have the right not only to believe in anything, but to say anything.

Trumbo is set for release in the UK on February 5th 2016.

Image Credit – From Trumbo by Entertainment One UK

Butthurt barrister threatens Charlie Hebdo with Int. Criminal Court for Aylan Kurdi toons

Je Suis Charlie, January 2015 by Thierry Ehrmann

Censorship fans lined up to condemn French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo for a set of cartoons mocking the West’s response to the ongoing migration crisis.

Peter Herbert, chair of the Society of Black Lawyers, threatened to take the magazine to the International Criminal Court over two cartoons featuring Aylan Kurdi, a Syrian toddler whose corpse was photographed after it washed onto the shores of Turkey.

Whilst Herbert has an OBE it clearly is unrelated to services in understanding the meaning of cartoons, since both of the Charlie Hebdo pieces in question attack the West rather than the migrants.

Charlie Hebdo Aylan Kurdi cartoons

Source: Charlie Hebdo via Blazing Cat Fur

The image on the left roughly reads: “The proof that Europe is Christian. Christians walk on water. Muslim children sink.”

This references several Eastern European leaders who have opposed refugees because they are Muslim, the east of the continent being more homogenous than the likes of France, Germany or Britain.

The image on the right roughly reads: “So near the goal.” And the billboard reads: “Promotion! Two children’s meals for the price of one.”

Far from attacking Kurdi or the Syrian refugees, this is intended to attack Western consumerism in the face of refugees’ suffering, Charlie Hebdo being staffed by a number of committed socialists.

Maajid Nawaz, founding chair of anti-extremist group the Quilliam Foundation, wrote on Facebook:

“Fellow Muslims, please, if you don’t get satire just ask someone before assuming an intelligent left-wing satirical magazine isn’t satire. Taste is always in the eye of the beholder. But these cartoons are a damning indictment on our anti-refugee sentiment.”

This didn’t stop a number of ignoramuses misinterpreting the cartoon, in turn vindicating the work of Charlie Hebdo, which has attacked everything from Catholicism to sexism to the West to Islam, the latter of which resulted in a gun attack on the magazine’s Paris office in January, killing many of the most prominent cartoonists.

Image Credit – Je Suis Charlie, January 2015 by Thierry Ehrmann