Twitter is a forum for debate, not hate - Nick Griffin should be banned for good

The police are right to investigate British National Party leader Nick Griffin after he used Twitter to publish the address of a gay couple.

Share

Yesterday I read the news that Michael Black and John Morgan had won their case of discrimination against a bed and breakfast owner who had refused to let them stay, and like many, was pleased for them.

This was a couple that had taken the courage to stand up against homophobia and they had been vindicated. But within hours the story had changed.

Nick Griffin MEP tweeted the home address of the couple and encouraged his 17,000 followers to cause a “bit of drama” at their home. And no, he wasn’t talking about popping round for the Strictly final. For a couple that had already been through so much this was disgraceful. But more than that, it was threatening and I suspect, illegal.

I started a petition on Change.org to get Nick Griffin banned from twitter and when I woke up this morning 3,000 people has signed it. Now over 7,000 people have and it’s still growing.

Twitter needs to listen.

I support freedom of speech – I use it a lot to express my views on twitter and it’s this exact freedom that allowed me to start my petition. But I do not support inciting hate crime. And this is the issue here. Twitter is great forum for debate but should not be used to incite homophobic hate. The police are rightly investigating Nick Griffin’s tweets and I hope they will take swift action.

But twitter must act too.

The “Twitter rules” state that twitter reserves the right to immediately terminate your account without further notice in the event that, in its judgment, you violate its rules. It is not clear how “in its judgment” applies in the real world. We all occasionally get carried away, say something we don’t mean or something that can be taken out of context, so it’s good that twitter rules are not draconian. 

But that is not the situation here. No organisation can turn a blind eye to homophobia or inciting hatred.

One of the tweets read: “So Messrs Black & Morgan, at [ADDRESS DELETED]. A British Justice team will come up to Huntington & give you a...bit of drama by way of reminding you that an English couple's home is their castle. Say No to heterophobia!”

Nick Griffin’s account @NickGriffinMEP was suspended for just a few hours last night and then reinstated with only one of the offending tweets deleted. So he’s back on this morning and making more offensive comments, this time about race.

If Michael and John’s case showed us anything it is that we must defend our human rights and be willing to speak out when they are challenged. It is a sad reality that homophobia still exists in this country. Stonewall says that more than half of gay, lesbian or bisexual students experience homophobic bullying and stats on homophobic hate crime make equally depressing reading. In 2008 one in eight of lesbians and gay men reported experiencing a hate crime or incident, that is just the cases that are reported. Homophobia in our society will not change unless we have the courage, like Michael and John did, to speak out and demand action. 

My only worry in all of this is that Nick Griffin will get more publicity. But I hope that if Twitter do the right thing and ban him from the site – then at least that will be one arena that he can no longer use to bully and incite hatred. Twitter needs to use its judgement today to send a clear message that it is for free speech and against hate. In our ever-changing world of online communications, a line must be drawn in the sand. 

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A Gold Ferrari sits outside Chanel on Sloane Street  

Sunday Times Rich List: We are no longer in thrall to very rich people

Terence Blacker
David Cameron was openly emotional at the prospect of Scotland leaving the union before the referendum  

Remember when David Cameron almost cried over Scotland because he loved it so much?

Matthew Norman
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions