With painful predictability, the release on bail of the anti-Islam activist Tommy Robinson led to much media handwringing about the dangerousness of his ideas. He must not be afforded media platforms, worried leftists said. When Robinson supporter Raheem Kassam was given a few minutes on Today to big-up his mate, the chattering classes spluttered in their cornflakes. Reading their commentary you could be forgiven for thinking Goebbels himself had risen from the dust to elbow aside Sarah Sands and take command of Radio 4’s morning show.
The idea driving this demand of ‘No Platform for Robinson!’ is that the Tommy Robinson phenomenon is a product of too much freedom of speech. According to these people, Robinson looms large in the public imagination because the media have been too open to his ideas. He and his kind have enjoyed too much liberty in the realm of public discussion, and, in the neo-Victorian view of the Ban Tommy lobby, this has allowed him to poison the minds of large numbers of people and reduce them to a Muslim-hating mob. Monkey see, monkey do: the misanthropic motor of every demand for restrictions on speech.