Double think on incitement

In the wake of BNP leader Nick Griffin’s acquittal on a charge of inciting racial hatred against Muslims, editorials in both the Sunday Telegraph and the Observer come out against tightening the law.

Their arguments are ignorant – the Torygraph is evidently labouring under the impression that Mizanur Rahman was convicted of incitement to murder, when he was of course convicted of inciting racial hatred – and also incoherent. The Observer argues that Griffin’s case was different because his speech was made “in private” – though what that has to do with the issue of incitement is unclear. Does the Observer think it would have been OK for Griffin to incite people to go out and murder Muslims, as long as his speech was made at a BNP internal meeting?

Both the Telegraph and the Observer argue that words which fall short of actually inciting violence should not be criminalised – which is in fact an argument for abolishing most of the existing legislation against inciting racial hatred. No doubt the Telegraph would welcome such a step. We can only assume that the Observer agrees.