Free Speech (so called) why twitter was right to ban Britain First

There’s a quote – attributed to Voltaire – that goes:

‘I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.’

You see it often in Jpeg form or quoted on Twitter, in the press and all across social media. Over the last few years and in the days of after-shock following the racist Britain First’s twitter suspension it has been doing good business.

It was only today – and frankly to my surprise – when I bothered to check the source that I discovered that Voltaire never said such a thing. The ‘quote’ was actually penned by an English writer Evelyn Beatrice Hall (who ascribed the words to the great thinker.) I confess I’ve never read any Voltaire but obviously he is one of Europe’s ‘Greats’ and so when the words are attributed to him they gain currency – much as any old bull crap can be rendered worthy of an entry in the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations when credited to Gandhi, Einstein, Winston Churchill or Margaret Thatcher.

I’m rather pleased to discover that the quote has nothing to do with Voltaire for two reasons – firstly because it’s a lot of bollocks and secondly, because the fact of  its fiction neatly demonstrates the point I want to make.

Let’s study the bollocks first. Taken out of any context and standing alone, this idea that liberal minded free thinkers should be obliged to ‘defend’ the rights of bigots, religious extremists, paedophiles, fascists, Stalinists, racists, perjurers, prevaricators, liars and fools is patent nonsense. 

Should we defend the rights of extremist preachers to incite terror attacks? Should we have all defended Adolf Hitler’s liberty to argue that the Aryan race was naturally superior and that the Jews should be stripped of their rights and lives?  Should we defend the anti-semites in their attempts to prove that the camps at Belsen and Dachau were a fabrication? If so – how far do we extend that courtesy? Should schools invite holocaust deniers to speak to their children just so the kids can hear the other side of the argument? Should we welcome the case for ‘Creationism’ to be taught alongside evolution in schools thus lending Iron Age camp-fire myths equal weight to accepted science?

Now I am using extremes here but there is a very good reason for that. Free speech has its limits. Freedom of expression lies at the heart of a democracy – but it is not an inalienable right. There comes a time when dangerous and illiberal sentiments need to be curtailed, not least to defend that democracy and the people within it. That can be done either by the law or by the terms and conditions of use set out by social media firms.

Britain First has consistently fallen foul of both domestic British law and the terms of use set out by their platforms and it is frankly lamentable that both have taken so long to catch up with them.

If the internet has taught us anything, it is that there are a lot of people who are very gullible indeed – as I have written previously. From their viral origins Britain First demonstrated an aptitude for disseminating misinformation and false equivalence with devastating effect. I have determined not to share any of their images in this post – but to give an example they would frequently post images of homeless soldiers inviting Facebook users to ‘like’ if they thought the government should prioritise their care over that of asylum seekers. Many who liked it probably had no idea ‘who’ they were liking and any suggestion that government could and should help both was parked at the door.

The damage was done.

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As this outfit of racists (and yes they were just that) gained media attention – their currency grew. I often read their feed and it was lie after lie after lie. As the ‘Voltaire’ quote neatly demonstrates – a  fake can easily get implanted in our culture and fabrications can swiftly become accepted truths.  A quick internet search could disprove a high percentage of their stuff, much of which was presented without source or context – but the fact is that most people simply don’t care about that. Muslim haters don’t seek answers or context – they seek confirmation of their hatred. Britain First’s online followers were radicalised by a diet of hate based on selective truth and downright lies and twitter  afforded the group’s leaders blue ticks – lending them an added air of authority which led eventually to Fransen being ‘retweeted’ by the American President and afforded a whole new level of exposure.

Britain First benefitted from an indulgence of tolerance that would never be afforded them in a general election campaign or in conventional British politics. They breached the boundaries of Free Speech with the same disregard that they ruptured the limits of truth. Their filth was excreted into the mainstream and their actions became more and more reckless. The ban was wholly appropriate.

In the days that have followed, I have been amused to observe many of our ‘home grown’ alt-right commentators lambast twitter – er – on twitter – for curtailing free speech. People like James Delingpole, Katie Hopkins and that funny little man who calls himself ‘Old Holborn’ have busied themselves about the internet branding those who welcome the move as ‘haters of democracy.’ The truth is that these defenders of free speech no more believe in it than I believe in flying car-parks called Steve. To them, like Britain First, ‘free speech’ means the ‘permission to be a racist and say racist things like you could in the old days.’

For myself, I think it’s important to hear different opinions and not merely paint myself into an echo chamber. Try it guys.



Jayda Fransen on Muslams, Trump, Sonny and Cher.


“I were born in 1986 and you would not believe how different England was back then. That were in the days before mass uncontrolled immigration from the EU. You still had Wimpys on every street in every town selling fast food, you still had them big 50p pieces and Bros was about to break out into the charts. Now it’s all Indian restaurants and kebab shops and kids in schools have to go the mosque and nobody listens to Bros. Growing up me old Nan – with a tear in her eye – would say “promise me love. Promise me Jayda. Promise me that one day we can have that England back. The one with Bros and Wimpy – and them big 50p pieces.” I promised that to her on her death bed. Then she recovered and forgot all about it. But I did not.

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People says I am racist but I am not. I object to the Islamifactationisation of England because we do not practise foreign religions here. Muslam is a Middle Eastern religion and Christianity most definitely is not. We are English and we worship the Bible and Jesus. You cannot and I cannot stress this enough be racist about Muslams, because Muslam  is not a race. The two hundred metres is a race. The London Marathon is a race, the Grand National is a race, but Muslam is a religion and there’s no running involved. So do not call me a racist. I might not like the blacks or the Jews or the Asians but it’s not because I am racist.


I get disgusted when I see the Islamificationisation of our nation. I were with Paul (Golding leader of Britain First) in the Red Cross charity shop in Ashford the other day and we was looking at the CDs and that and then I shrieks and I’m going “like what is this?” And in the racks yeah there’s this CD of “Sonny and Cher” and them is like the two strands of Islam, which I know because I read the back of Tommy Robinson’s book on twitter. And I stand up on the counter and I take out my mid-sized cross which I always carry with me in case of an emergency and the old lady behind the counter is going: “could you step down dear it isn’t very safe!” And I shouts: “NO! I will not rest until this filth is destroyed. Then I stamped on the CD and smashed it and then, having fallen through the counter and pushed the old lady out the way – I marched out.”  Sonny and Cher were the founders of Islam and having that so blatantly in a shop like the Red Cross is disgusting to be fair.


I am a committed Christian. I go to church sometimes as much as once a year – at Christmas – more if there’s a funeral. Jesus hated Muslams because of their Halal practises of killing animals. I am an animal lover like most British people and will not eat butchered meat. The thought that someone has killed the animal to put it in the packaging is disgusting. We at Britain First only eat bacon. It isn’t halal and the pig hasn’t died making it. Also, it literally wards off the Muslams – if they even see it they run screaming away. It has worked because neither Paul nor I has been ritually slaughtered and I put that down to the bacon.


When Donald Trump retweeted me I thought “it’s all been worth it Jayda.” A retweet from the Prime Minister of America is the biggest arcade you could have. It’s like winning the Victoria Medal and I done a lap of the town with my “special occasions” cross (the big one) and I told everyone. People despise us because we despise them but one day when I am President of Britain and all the Muslams have been deported back to Belgium I like to think Donald Trump will invite me to Downing Street to say thank you – and perhaps give me an even bigger cross.”

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Crosses, poppies and flags. REAL patriots.

As told to Otto English – SATIRE