Question: So, Dave, what do you think about the Oxford Union inviting Nick Griffin and David Irving to its debate about free speech?
Answer: Well, Dave, young Tryl and his chums were within their rights to do it. But I wouldn't have.
Question: Why not?
Answer: Two reasons: one, because they're a pair of turds who, given half a chance, would cheerfully deprive the likes of me of my right to free speech; two, because inviting them was bound to result in a media furore and a street ruck, both of which have enabled them to pose as martyrs while the actual debate has barely had a mention.
Question: But Dave! You're avoiding the key issue! Never mind how things turned out. Surely your priority should be to defend the right of people you despise to express their opinions, however revolting you find them!
Answer: If they're not inciting violence - which is, of course, a bit of a grey area - then I do defend that right. But, at the same, I and others have the right to express our disagreement with their views and the decisions of others to provide them with a platform that invests them with undeserved respectability. Free speech is a two-way street - something callow libertarians forget in their eagerness to stick up for the rights of scumbags while heaping scorn on those who exercise their right to remind people that scumbags are what they are.
Question: Hang on, though. Isn't it true that people are rarely given the chance to hear the views of such as Griffin and Irving? Shouldn't they be given that chance and left to make up their own minds?
Answer: Oh, do me a favour! The reason why lowlife like those two don't get much mainstream airing is not that they've been censored in some mysterious way but that their arguments have long since been exposed as pernicious crap. No one prevents them organising politically, writing books, pamphlets and blogs and generally using all the freedoms a democracy puts at their disposal to propagate their views. And guess what? Almost no one is convinced. Tough.
Question: OK, thanks. By the way, Dave, do you know what they say about people who talk to themselves?
Answer: Yes, Dave. And in my case it's probably true. But, hey, it's still a free country!