Not to be outdone by the ACLU Oxford University's student run Debating Society has invited two fascists to speak during a free speech event at Oxford University tomorrow.
Nick Griffin, leader of the British National Party, was convicted by UK courts for materials inciting racial hatred for producing materials denying the holocaust.
Similarly, David Irving, a discredited historian who was sentenced to three years in jail by Austrian courts for his holocaust denials.
The argument seems to be that an event debating the question of freedom of speech has to rely on fascists' contributions in order to be suitably credible. In fact, dear Oxford Debating Society why not also invite a couple of pedophiles feeling violated in their freedom of speech, because they're unable to advertise child sex brothels in Asia and elsewhere? Or a representative of the KKK who is upset about limitations in his (usually his) freedom of speech, because he is unable to rave about getting rid of all African Americans? Surely there is an infinite number of lunatics out there that could valuably contribute to your important debate...
What these students have clearly missed is that a debate about reasonable limits (or none) on freedom of speech can be had without inviting Griffin and Irving or similarly shady character, and without violating these characters' right to express themselves. After all, it is not their entitlement or legal right to be invited by the Debating Society to express their views. They can simply go to Hyde Park's Speakers' Corner and rave about ethnic minorities, gays and the EU - in the rain.
This is why Trevor Phillips, chair person of the UK's Commission for Equalities and Human Rights is right when he said, 'this is not a question of freedom of speech, this is a juvenile provocation.'