Arts & Entertainment
Bigoted free speech supported with Griffin lecture
Speaker would 'shove', 'kill' homosexuals
by Todd A. Heywood
Originally printed 11/1/2007 (Issue 1544 - Between The Lines News)
EAST LANSING- The fallout from the appearance of controversial British National Party leader Nick Griffin at Michigan State University last Friday continues. Griffin was originally supposed to deliver a lecture on the dangers of radical Islam but protesters demanded he answer questions. In a two-hour cantankerous give and take with more than 75 protesters and 30 supporters, Griffin delivered a range of views.
"Muslims gang rape women in Norway and other cultures. Only Muslims do this," he told the crowd.
"I want to explain why people like you see me as a racist pig," he said. "We don't believe we are better...we don't believe in integration. Integration is extermination."
Explaining why he was qualified to lecture at MSU about Islam, Griffin responded, "My credentials are I have a degree in history and law. I am significantly older than most of you are here, and I have spoken with many, many Muslims."
Griffin also called protesters stupid, accused them of being bussed in from Detroit, and of being lesbians. He also told protesters he would "shove" homosexuals back in the closet and "kill them."
Prior to the speech protesters complained of Griffin's party's racist agenda that includes the removal of all non-white people living in Britain, and his alleged Holocaust denial. He reiterated during Friday night's session that "it is a well known fact that the chimneys were added" to concentration camps after the war.
While the event was contentious no violence occurred. There were no arrests and no one was ejected from the event. However, following the speech a group of Young Americans for Freedom members were chased into a nearby parking ramp by protesters. A police investigation is ongoing into the incident. YAF is the student group that sponsored the speech. The group is no stranger to controversy, as it was listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center in April, and other events sponsored by the group have led to protests. In April, an appearance by Chris Simcox, head of the Minutemen Civilian Defense Corps, lead protestors into a similar contentious confrontation, but MSU police ended up arresting five protestors, and kicking dozens out of the public building.
The Internet is buzzing with condemnation for Griffin while supportive for the exchange of ideas presented.
"To be sure, it was two hours of name calling and shouting and the prepared speech wasn't given, but amid the contentious exchanges, I would say Griffin was able to convey his intended core messages. And I would say the required question-answer component of our policy was met," said MSU spokesperson Terry Denbow on his blog Monday morning. "During the exchanges I heard things I found reprehensible and counter to MSU's values. But bottom line: the marketplace on the banks of the Red Cedar was tested--and was kept open, safe, and accessible, if not, to me, enlightening or elevating."
The State News, the campus newspaper of MSU, wrote an editorial condemning the actions of protesters.
"No one should ever be censored, regardless of how offensive his or her message might be. And although that message might be based on lies, misinformation and pure ignorance, people should be fighting for those individuals' rights to spout such nonsense. If people are silenced, if we trample on democracy, then what are we left with as a nation? A public university is a prime example of where this discussion should be taking place because it's a public-forum setting."
Another web site, littegreenfootballs.com, condemned Young Americans for Freedom, the group that brought Griffin to East Lansing. "The YAF should apologize for this, and renounce any associations with the BNP or Griffin. It's an indefensible move, and a gigantic mistake. Do the right thing and distance yourselves now while you can still control the damage."
And Chetly Zarko, who is a paid political consultant for such conservatives as Ward Connerly, posted on the Michigan Messenger web site that the protesters were wrong. "While I absolutely agree that Griffin's views are repulsive and vile, it's tragic that those who oppose them think they have the legitimate authority to censor them. Condemn them? Absolutely. Protest them? Absolutely. Make your own voices heard in response to such hatred? Absolutely. But attempting to disrupt the event, shout down the speaker or commit any sort of physical violence (including chasing people around campus) is equally vulgar and inappropriate."