On Tuesday afternoon, the English Defence League’s website was apparently hacked and taken offline by techies from the hacktivist group Anonymous. They really shouldn’t have bothered.
Anonymous warned in March they’d be targeting the EDL in order to put an end to the group’s hate speech; lo and behold, it appears they have. But isn’t that pretty rich coming from a collective of hackers constantly associating themselves with the likes of Wikileaks and Edward Snowden? Sure, they don’t have a stone-cut mantra. Yet in general, these hacktivists treasure their freedom of speech above all else – or at the very least, they’re obsessed with maintaining a free flow of information. What, then, are we to make of that same group taking away someone else’s freedom to share information?
Too often we preach our undying devotion to freedom of speech, only to recant and demand censorship when someone delivers rhetoric we find offensive. That said, it’s not hard to see why most of Britain is offended by Tommy Robinson and his lot. They believe the country is slowly transforming into an ‘Islamified’ socialist Hell, and that the wellbeing of our children has been put in jeopardy by an influx of Romanian immigrants that may never materialise. Every tweet contains less insight than the last, and more often than not EDL rallies seem to devolve into nothing more than drunken, racist wanderings. Personal experience tells me it’s vital we allow the EDL to keep on doing what they do best.
Being from Kansas, I’m constantly bombarded with one of two ice-breakers: the Wizard of Oz, or the Westboro Baptist Church. God knows I’ve got plenty to say about the Wizard of Oz, but I grew up just 20 minutes down the road from ‘America’s most hated family’. I’ve watched them preach revolting messages of hate outside funerals, concerts and my high school graduation. Even as kids, we found it sickening – but all of those counter protests, death threats and Supreme Court cases they attract only give those self-righteous bigots exactly what they want: media exposure. Even by condemning the church, we spread their vile messages (I cringe even mentioning them as a cautionary tale). There are hardly a dozen members of the church, yet somehow everyone in the UK has heard of them – helping the Phelps family reach unattainable levels of infamy it simply hasn’t earned.
The EDL proves a fitting parallel. You can’t win an argument against people who refuse to adopt reason, so why do we keep trying? If you don’t agree with what the EDL stands for, the best way to fight back is by giving them the silent treatment. Don’t look at them while they march, don’t troll them on Facebook and whatever you do, don’t try to shut them down. Each word they preach is a self-inflicted shot in the foot. They absolutely deserve to put their own ignorance on display – because who are we to deny them the right to foolishly show the world just how prejudiced and small-minded they are?
Of course the world would be a far better place if bigots weren’t able to plaster the web with their unsubstantiated hate speech, or stand outside a soldier’s funeral ranting about God’s supposed campaign against aborted babies. But it’s utterly impossible to silence such filth without forfeiting our own beliefs in the process. So if you despise hate groups like the EDL as much as I do, do everyone a favour and leave them alone – because knowing they're making themselves look like complete idiots should be solace enough.