Question of the Day: In Search of Egg-cellence

Daniel Davies on the Laffer curve in egging British fascists:

And still they come ... in response to the latest pieing episode (actually an egging of Nick Griffin, leader of the British National Party), the usual crowd of wowsers and pursed-lip good-government types come out of the woodwork, sorrowfully wagging their fingers and telling us "this is just what the BNP want", and "this sort of thing makes people sympathetic to the BNP". And once more I say "where's the evidence?" Nick Griffin certainly doesn't look like he's executing the culmination of a cunning master plan to gain favourable publicity - he looks like he's being egged and not enjoying it. And I really don't understand the sort of mind that would look at the chubby fascist with yolk running down his coupon and say to themselves "gosh they must have a really important point to make if the so-called anti-fascists have to stoop to these depths to silence them". Rather than, say, my own reaction, which was roughly "Cracking shot, sir!". As I've noted before, there's a Laffer Curve implicit here. If nobody ever egged Nick Griffin, then he'd never get egged, which I presume nobody wants. On the other hand, if he was egged every single time he went out, then he'd never leave his house - result, no eggings. But I really don't believe that we're on the right hand side of that Laffer Curve, not yet.

And in this particular case, the egging itself is actually a very important speech act and a significant contribution to our national debate. Based on the fact that they got two MEPs elected, non-white British citizens might justifiably be looking with suspicion at their white neighbours today, thinking that a significant proportion of us were secretly harbouring fascist sympathies. In fact this isn't true; the absolute number of BNP votes was slightly down on 2004, and their electoral success was purely an artefact of overall low turnout. It's therefore an important point to be made, to our own population and to the world's watching media, that Nick Griffin isn't in fact a newly popular and influential political figure; he's a widely reviled creep who not only doesn't lead a phalanx of jackbooted supporters, but actually can't even set up for a TV interview without being pelted with eggs. The voice of the British populace does not shout "Hail Griffin!", it shouts, "Oi Fatty, cop this! [splat]". And the only efficient and credible way to demonstrate to the world that Griffin is regarded as an eggworthy disgrace, is to actually and repeatedly pelt him with eggs.

Tangentially related question:  should egging fascists be an acceptable form of speech?  Should the Supreme Court protect it?  I mean, in practice, presumably it is not a crime with a heavy penalty.  But should it be a crime at all?

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Megan McArdle is a columnist at Bloomberg View and a former senior editor at The Atlantic. Her new book is The Up Side of Down.

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