As the judge delivered his sentencing remarks in this week’s sending down of Joshua Bonehill Paine, the neo-Nazi whose aggressive pursuit of Labour MP Luciana Berger had clearly crossed the harassment and hate speech line, some observers of supposedly mainstream right-wing media outlets may have experienced a moment of déjà vu.
Andrew Breitbart - a poisonous legacy
Paragraph 3 of those remarks, in which the judge discusses Bonehill Paine’s reaction to the jailing of Garron Helm for malicious and racist behaviour, begins “A week later, on 27th October, professing outrage at this supposed interference with Garron Helm’s right of free speech, you cynically embarked on a racist hate campaign against Ms Berger, through your obnoxious online newspaper. The first article was headed ‘Racist Anti-White Jewish Labour MP Luciana Berger exposed’”. Free speech. Anti-white racist.
The use of the characterisation “anti-white racist” is not just restricted to neo-Nazis like Bonehill Paine: this was also used by Raheem “Call Me Ray” Kassam of Breitbart when he attacked Sunny Hundal, in a petulant act of vindictiveness for being called out as a conspiracy site - which Breitbart, despite the protestations, undoubtedly is.
There’s more: Breitbart’s number one excuse for its behaviour is, inevitably, to claim that it’s all about free speech, and protest that anyone acting against its interests is interfering with that free speech. When Kellogg’s ceased to advertise via Breitbart, the response was to claim that “the move appears to be one more example of an out-of-touch corporation embracing false left-wing narratives used to cynically smear the hard working Americans that populate this nation’s heartland … We are fearless advocates for traditional American values, perhaps most important among them is freedom of speech”.
There does appear to be a good fit between Bonehill Paine’s outbursts and those emanating from Breitbart. And the kind of free speech that the Breitbart sites like to promote? How about the views of Netherlands Islam-hater Geert Wilders? He’s been featured in “Wilders for Breitbart” articles - see HERE and HERE.
Why is this relevant? Ah well. Wilders, as the Guardian has reported, “has been found guilty of inciting discrimination against Dutch Moroccans … Hendrik Steenhuis, chairman of the judges, said the remarks were clearly aimed at an ethnic population group and delivered in a televised speech for maximum effect”. And guess what? “Wilders denounced the trial from the outset as politically motivated and an attack on free speech”.
It’s fine, because it’s only free speech. That the hatred whipped up by sites like Breitbart, and politicians like Wilders, has consequences, as the judge at the Bonehill Paine trial pointed out, does not occur to those performing the incitement. But after neo-Nazi Bonehill Paine was sent down, and now that Wilders has gained a criminal record, can there be any doubt that Breitbart’s convocation of the irredeemably batshit could be next?
After all, they’re veering perilously close to where Joshua Bonehill Paine has already made his mark. It certainly couldn’t happen to a more deserving ship of fools.