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Thursday, November 04, 2010 

Muslims tell tabloids: put us on your front pages!

Minority Thought, 5CC and Steven (as we must now refer to the former Mr Vowl) all deal with the tabloids' curious sense of priorities when it came to the sentencing of Roshonara Choudhry, deciding that the antics of three mouth breathers in the public gallery were of far more importance than the culmination of a far more fascinating and worrying court case in their usual fine fashion.

More of note to me though is how the three papers and their rent-a-gobs have seemingly decided that they know better than Mr Justice Cooke himself does as to how he should run his own court. Mainly due to how the rest of the media either ignored the barracking and the protests outside it, which as usual was the best policy, or only made a token mention of it, we don't actually know for certain what happened. Indeed, their reports are confused: the Sun and Express have either two or three men being bundled out of court by security guards to continue their protest outside, while the Mail suggests those photographed outside were a separate second group. Certainly, if Cooke had been that troubled or startled by their shouts as he passed sentence, he could have either cleared the public gallery or asked for the men to be detained, neither of which he apparently did, with the security guards instead if we are to trust the Sun and the Express removing them of apparently their own volition. He was in by far the best position to see whether or not their comments towards a Muslim juror were either intimidating or as the Sun has it, "terrifying" her. Very few judges taking kindly to their authority being questioned or undermined, especially by those in the public gallery; that he didn't act is surely more than an indication that the reports are either being exaggerated or that he thought the best policy was to let them be dealt with by security.

What this all comes back to is not just how far freedom of speech goes, but also how you deal with those who are determined to make a scene and gain the sort of outrage over-the-top coverage which the tabloids are more than happy to give them. It was much the same back in January when that other extremist and self-publicist Anjem Choudary pretended that he and his organisation were going to march through Wootton Bassett when they almost certainly had no actual intention of doing so. The question of complicity - how by drawing attention which otherwise wouldn't have been given to a certain group you in fact do their work for them is a fine one, yet deserves to be further looked into. If anything, Choudary didn't need to go through with his threat as the reaction was such that his group would have only been over-emphasising the point. His umpteenth successor organisation to al-Muhajiroun was also almost instantly banned, further giving a goon with next to no real support the further mystique of being outside the law.

Surely the proper way to respond to the three's pathetic little protest, rather than instantly making a decision as to whether or not they were breaking any number of laws, was to regard it as what it was: a deeply unoriginal, yawn inducing spectacle and only move them on if there were any complaints made about them, which was exactly what happened. For a nation that prides itself on its supposed innate sense of tolerance and fair play, it's strange that we have such a different notion of freedom of speech to America, a country often criticised for having more than its fair share of reactionaries. When it comes to making mountains out of molehills, our press have shown themselves time and again to be world beaters.

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