Leading article: Poisonous debate

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The Independent Online

Rarely have the limits of free speech been so hotly debated. The Unite Against Fascism group yesterday called for a blockade of the BBC's Television Centre to disrupt the appearance of the leader of the British National Party, Nick Griffin, on the Corporation's Question Time programme later this month. Meanwhile, the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal has overturned a government bar on the far-right Dutch MP, Geert Wilders, entering the UK.

Mr Wilders and Mr Griffin are both xenophobes with poisonous views. But they are also elected representatives. Provided they stay within the law, they have a right to air their opinions, no matter how vile right-thinking people might find them.

However, democratic debate is not a one-way street. These two demagogues should be given their say. And then all people of tolerance and reason should argue back and expose their spiteful fear-mongering for what it is.