The U.K. Parliament held an extraordinary session Monday, debating whether to ban GOP candidate Donald Trump for inciting hatred with his comments about immigrants and women.
Trump appeared to have few fans, with some of those opposing the ban saying they did not want to give him the attention that would bring to him as the victim or that the best way to deal with him was through ridicule rather than the blunt instrument of a ban.
Either side was as likely to brand him a buffoon, xenophobe, racist, demagogue and panderer, all terms used at one time during the debate.
Conservative member Victoria Atkins said Trump's campaign pledges were "bonkers," but said the country should have enough confidence in its values to allow him to say whatever he wants.
Another member supporting the ban pointed out that the country was already seeing a rise in Islamophobia and Trump's attacks on Muslims could exacerbate that.
Other ban fans said that Trump's views amounted to hate speech, for which there was precedent for bans.
Atkins countered that freedom of speech must be defended jealously. She said of those who have been excluded, the threshold is that a person's presence is a threat to the public good, with most of those engaged in terrorism or fomenting intercommunity violence and one a murderer.
"Are you really saying his conduct, no matter how offensive, meets this same criteria?," she asked. Yes, signaled Tulip Siddiq of the Labour party, who said that Trump was indeed like some others who have been been banned for hate speech.
Jack Dromey of Labour said Trump's presence in the country was dangerous. "ISIS needs Donald Trump and Donald Trump needs ISIS," he said. "I strongly believe he should not be allowed in our country" to preach a message of divisive hate, he said. He said if a radicalized person hears Trump's anti Muslim rhetoric, the consequences could be grave. "Donald Trump is free to be a fool," he said, "but he's not free to be a dangerous fool in Britain."
Conservative Lucy Frazer said Democracy should respect freedom of expression and defeat Trump's statements with arguments not a ban.
Corri Wilson Scottish National Party spoke up for Trump's investment in the country. She pointed out that Donald Trump bought the Turnberry golf course and resort in 2014, investing 200 million pounds, employing 200 people, locally sourcing food and drink. She said the employees talk about a man with a passion for golf that has been backed up by action.
She said his comments have been deplorable and she was not going to stand there and defend him. But his offensive right-ring rhetoric thousands of miles away aside, Trump's exclusion could be catastrophic for the resort. She advised not to ban someone for wanting to ban others.
That was seconded by Conservative Philip Davies, though Davies went further, arguing that Trump's campaign was against political correctness.
He called Trump a straight-talker and said his own country could use more straight talk. He said he disagreed with Trump's view, but that he should have the right to express it.
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Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.
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