In the July 1996 edition of Cyberia magazine an article was published called ‘Network Nazis’. From the start it was clear that the writer, David Atkinson, had no intention of writing a balanced or reasoned article.
Selected opponents of groups such as the British National Party were quoted extensively calling for censorship and and the enforcement of ‘No Platform’. The so-called Anti Nazi League (in fact a name of convenience for the Socialist Workers Party) stated:
“One of the central tenets of the ANL is No Platform.”
Cyberia poses as anti-censorship, yet nowhere in the article were the BNP given the opportunity to respond to allegations made against them or make a case opposing censorship of their views. Nor were any civil rights or anti-censorship organisations quoted.
When someone wrote to Cyberia complaining about aspects of the article, the reply they published in their August 1996 issue defended opposition to censorship on the grounds that “we can monitor the activities of individuals on fascist groups and prosecute them”.
The opposition of Third Way to censorship of political views is based on an understanding that all views can be unpopular at given moments in time. Once we allow the authorities or media to censor views we surrender our right to judge for ourselves.
It is not censorship which will defeat organisations like the BNP. Rather it is the recognition that they have nothing to offer. Their authoritarian solutions are outdated. Why were real criticisms of the BNP not put in the article?
Instead, the BNP were boosted by giving inflated figures for the number of hits to their pages. Their sophistication was similarly exaggerated. After all, how many pages have to caution supporters against bad language and ranting?
Cyberia have let down the Internet community by publishing this ill-conceived tripe. Let’s hope that they pause to reflect on why people oppose the BNP — and that is because they are a threat to our freedom.
Cyberia have somewhat redeemed themselves by publishing the above article as a letter in their magazine.