I really must wean myself off visiting Harry’s Place if only for my own sanity and sense of well-being, but then I have to admit that they views of its main commentators on the Mohammed Cartoons do have, for the time being at least, rather a compelling quality in much the same way that a train wreck is compelling.
Today its Brownie’s turn to embarrass himself over this story:
The Swedish government has moved to shut down the website of a far-right political party’s newspaper over cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.
The site’s host, Levonline, pulled the plug on the website of the Swedish Democrats’ SD-Kuriren newspaper after consulting with the government.
It’s still unclear to me, reading the article, whether the Swedish government did have any hand in this, or whether the ISP Levonline, alone, pulled the plug.
Either way, this has to be seen as an unwelcome development. Given what they are and what they stand for, the Swedish Democrats’ SD-Kuriren online newspaper will almost certainly have carried what most reasonable people would consider “offensive content” before now.
Of course, it’s entirely possible – and understandable – that Levonline were the prime movers in shutting the site down. Ominously:
[Levonline CEO Turkel Nyberg] said he had been told by the government that Arab media were carrying reports about SD-Kuriren’s call for cartoons about Muhammad.
Here’s the thing: if obnoxious but legal sites such as this are pulled, the Swedish government and the ISP should be honest about the reasons i.e. concern for the safety of the workers; fear of reprisals from extremists, and all the rest. Hiding behind words of condemnation for the gratuitous provocation from a neo-Fascist, but still legal, political organisation, simply won’t do.
Come again, Brownie?
Without having seen the website in question it’s impossible to judge the rights and wrongs of this situation vis-a-vis free speech. It may well be that the disputed content was merely banal, childish and mildly obnoxious, and in all probability it was – but one also has to consider the possibility that as a far-right publication, its content may have come close to or crossed the line between offensive and incitement to hatred.
At this point in time, we don’t know for sure as we only have the word of the site’s editor for what the nature of the content was and how it was presented.
What we can be pretty much sure of, however, is that a far-right political party that the Beeb describes as ‘a small anti-immigrant party with no representatives in parliament, but a few local elected officials.’ are not stepping into the fray to defend free expression but jumping on the bandwagon to peddle their own particular brand of racist bigotry.
Which rather begs the question as to when the self-styled anti-fascists at Harry’s Place are going to get around to condemning that kind of behaviour as unacceptable and deliberately inflammatory rather than acting as apologists for the actions of the European far-right in this matter – and all in the name of free speech as well.