So after getting attention from everyone from Kurt Schlichter to the Drudge Report, to even Rush Limbaugh, the case of the UK government’s disturbing attempt to “disappear” Tommy Robinson has become an international sensation.
And rightly so. For a journalist to be arrested outside a courtroom for the crime of reporting on a trial, and then sent to prison for 13 months for contempt of court by a judge who loudly announced his indifference to the dangers that person could face, is something truly horrifying, particularly in the birthplace of classical liberalism. More horrifying still is the fact that the judge then imposed a ban preventing press outlets from discussing the verdict at all, and threatening people for jail for even something as innocuous as retweeting people who did report on it.
Regardless of Robinson’s admittedly controversial public image, you would think that mainstream press outlets would be shocked by this obvious contempt for freedom of the press in the latter case, if not by Robinson’s particular exercise of that freedom. You might especially that from sites with slogans like…say, “Democracy Dies in Darkness?”
No such luck. Apparently, based on the “Analysis” (read: opinion) piece posted by WaPo on the subject of Robinson’s arrest, democracy should die in darkness if it means empowering those icky “far right” people who disrupt the consensus.
The piece, which appears to be written by a part-time spider pornographer, is anti-Robinson spin straight through, portraying Robinson’s actions as those of an unhinged zealot chasing down “brown people” to interrogate them about the case during the first few minutes of his stream, when any idiot can see that Robinson’s goal (however inelegantly implemented) was to test whether Muslim citizens felt ashamed that rape gangs might be associated with them. Not to mention the fact that the people he asks give as good as they get, so to speak, in response.
Moreover, the WaPo piece makes the standard complaint justifying Robinson’s arrest and imprisonment: he could have contaminated the trial, and then those awful Muslims he claims to hate would have walked free! And wouldn’t that just be awful?
I’m not going to touch on the maliciously selective choice of facts in the piece, except to say what Robinson’s defenders have already—that Robinson made every sign of a good faith effort to stay within the bounds of his previous suspended sentence during the livestream, as shown by his choice of words, and that literally nothing he said on his stream was not already public knowledge. Instead, I am going to ask a simple question: What if a UK judge arrested, say, Laurie Penny for reporting on a trial in which a neo-Nazi skinhead had groomed young white girls to be “tradwives” for his pals, on the grounds that her left-slanted reporting could prejudice the jury. How many blue checkmarks, including those from WaPo, would cry foul?
Answer: Probably all of them. And rightly so! Because if you accede to the pretense that Tommy Robinson’s mere present at a trial of Muslims is sufficient evidence to prejudice a jury into acquitting those same Muslims, then you effectively state that no critic of Islam can be present at a trial, lest the jury get it into their heads that because someone ran around talking into a camera for an hour, the entire case they’ve heard has been contaminated. And, if you accede to that, then you must also concede that no critic of fascism can be permitted the same license when actual neo-Nazis are tried in the UK, on the grounds that it could make the jury think the far Left is responsible.
Fair is fair, right?
Fortunately, the UK legal system did not choose to accept this particular line of argument, which is why the reporting ban on Robinson’s case has since been lifted—something that WaPo never explains, but only notes bitterly with the plaintive hope that it will “somewhat complicate his brief stint as a Martyr.”
But a Martyr Robinson surely is, even if the WaPo enjoys the sight of him being fed to the lions too much to admit it. Still, give the Post writer this much credit: at least he didn’t go so far as to compare Robinson’s jailing to the Nuremberg trials, or his defenders to Nazi propagandists, like Jeet Heer of The New Republic did.
Apparently, the likes of Heer and WaPo‘s sniveling apologist for tyranny need to be reminded of one fact, however: Even if you believe someone is a Nazi, that doesn’t justify turning into a Stalinist.