When Tommy Robinson was sentenced to 13 months in prison earlier this week the reaction from the far right was unanimous; the former EDL leader was punished for reporting on a child grooming trial because the British government was covering it up. He was arrested for exercising his right to free speech and sent to prison because Britain has become a police state on the way to imposing Sharia law.
Victimhood has become a key part of the right-wing narrative both in Britain and across the pond. Stoking resentment based on injustices makes people lose sight of the reality of the situation, and so we have seen this week.
Robinson was sentenced not because he was “reporting on something the government doesn’t want him to report on”, as one commentator suggested, but because he was in contempt of court. He was also under a suspended sentence for a similar action in 2017, and going to a courtroom under a suspended sentence and committing the same crime again – in a trial that involved the sexual abuse of minors – is quite frankly, idiotic.
That was something we felt was necessary to point out this week as a rhetoric of victimhood started to emerge. We satirically poked fun at the ‘free Tommy’ campaign which shows a flagrant disregard for the British legal system, criminal trials or court reporting restrictions. The piece has since been shared over 60,000 times since it was published, and has garnered its fair share of hate mail as a result.
“Traitors”, “paedo lovers” and “cunts” were just a sampling of the responses we garnered for trying to disrupt the far right narrative. Others told us to “go slip and break your neck on the bathroom floor” and even used our children to shame us out of an editorial stance that was supposedly “against the indigenous authentic British citizen” and even “worse than the perpetrators”.
Threats against newspapers aren’t uncommon in an age where people can hide behind their screens, but the level of abuse we received in a week where we took a strong stance against a misguided right wing rhetoric is indicative of how people like Robinson have riled certain parts of the public and how divisive he can be.
Perhaps, given how victimhood has become such a big part of the agenda, a short jail sentence was a price Tommy Robinson was willing to pay. Now their fears have been realised and Britain really has become a police state in which freedom of expression has no place.
For a community that is so obsessed with justice it is perhaps ironic that their commitment to a fair trial has been lost here, but it is impossible to make good judgement when irrational emotions take charge of the brain. And anger, fear and loathing are purposefully playing a big role here.
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