The leader of the extreme right-wing British National Party appeared on a popular political show, "Question Time,"on BBC Television last week prompting a heated national debate over the the free speech rights of extremists in Britain.
British National Party leader Nick Griffin has made comments endorsing the deportation of two million non-white immigrants and denying the Holocaust. His party has had recent electoral success, winning two seats in the European parliament and one seat in the local London legislature.
Though Anti-racism protesters demonstrated outside the studio the BBC irefused to cancel his appearance, arguing that the BBC was committed to "due impartiality."
In this video, NewsHour correspondent Simon Marks reports on the controversy that swept Britain last week, looking at the national conversation about free speech in extremism and how it works in a country with no written First Amendment rights.
"There are very few guidelines [regarding free speech]. And even in other European countries, like France and Germany, there are much more stringent laws about propagating inflammatory speech. So, there is no great road map." - Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson, media editor, The Financial Times
"Nick Griffin remains a fringe figure in British politics, with no immediate prospects of winning a general election or forming a government. But, at a time of deepening unemployment and recession in Britain, his supporters and critics alike agree that his appearance on television last night was a watershed moment in British society, a chance for the country's extremists to swim in the mainstream." -Simon Marks, NewsHour correspondent
1. What rights are listed in the First Amendment to the Bill of Rights?
2. Define free speech? What does it mean to you?
1. Do you think that the BBC was right to allow Nick Griffin to appear on their show? Explain your answer.
2. Do you think something like this would be as controversial in the U.S.? Can you think of any similar occurrences that you have heard about?
3. Do you think free speech is important? Where do you draw the line between free speech and so-called "hate speech?" Do you think that people who say hateful things have the right to say them?
4. Define extremism. How have views about what is "extreme" changed over time in the U.S. What do you consider extremist viewpoints? Have people always felt that way?