Ideas not violence – A time and place for both?

Richard Spencer with his carefully designed coiffured haircut and pristine manicured fingernails is unquestionably a smug looking neo-Nazi who many may never of heard of until out of the blue, literally he got punched in the head.

Not only did he get punched but worse still from his point of view it happened while he was being interviewed live on television for the whole world to witness and it has to be said punched with some considerable force.

This of course is where the internet really comes into own giving people the opportunity to watch endless replays of the incident where it seems very few things bring so much joy to so many as an overt racist on the receiving end of a knuckle sandwich.

The act as was to be expected has been condemned by right wing fascist groups as an act of gratuitous violence.

However by many others it has been very widely condoned and in fact even encouraged by those who enjoy what could be called a righteous bit of violence.

I fully admit to be someone who remembers such righteous violence acts, one of which warmed the cockles of my heart at the time.

The one I’m referring to involved the then England player Tim Rodber handing out physical retribution to Eastern Provinces Simon Tremain in 1994. Tim Rodber got sent off but how I cheered that at least he stood up and refused to let his mates get a kicking.

Tim Rodber walking after delivering righteous retribution in 1994

Before anyone gets on my case I have also been on the receiving end of righteous retribution on a rugby pitch and most well deserved usually for killing the ball.

The problem of course is that violence is acceptable and certainly a great deal more satisfying if you’re on the winning end of it, which is where it becomes a little suspect.

I confess I am happy to see anyone espousing NAZI ideology punched but having said that who else are we allowed to thump?

More worrying perhaps is who is allowed to and when can they thump me? (And I can think of a few who would like to, mostly Conservatives but I reconcile myself to the thought that they wouldn’t have the guts so I’m pretty safe)

It will come as no surprise that my father who fought for the whole of the Second World War was no great fan of NAZIS, and yet he liked and highly respected his German opponents.

He could however be a bit, speaking politely, of a racist, not surprisingly as you might expect based on colour but on his experience of coming across a number of not very nice people during his Army service that started in 1938 and didn’t end until 1964.

Would it have been alright to thump him for his views?

Not that I would have recommended anyone trying.

What he would say about the current state of the world is something I reflect upon regularly.

So the question is when can we punch someone, how hard,and how often?

It would be beneficial perhaps if the great and the good could get together and formulate a set of rules for us all to follow.

Which in fact they already have.

It is called the Law?

In what we call Western Democracies violence is permitted in very certain and prescribed ways laid down by law.

You can use force to defend yourself but only sufficient to protect yourself and not by using excessive force?

I’ve never been sure, short of actually killing someone what is excessive force as prescribed by law.

What the law says and is clear about is that you cannot use physical force and violence just because you don’t like someone’s views no matter how odious to you or society they are.

I can hear the cry of ‘bollocks’ from those who enjoyed seeing Richard Spencer being chinned.

But what about ‘free speech’ and the famous Voltaire quote that “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”

Well it seems that it doesn’t apply to punching Nazis or Racists.

Of course Spencer himself invoked the freedom of speech argument by claiming that the video will not only haunt him forever, (perhaps he should watch a video of the liberation of Belson and Auchwitz  – now that is something that should haunt him) and he will hate it.

The problem with such as Spencer is that thumping him will almost certainly not change his views or opinions in fact quite the opposite it may well further entrench them.

But does that matter?

It may seem strange given my great joy at seeing Richard Spencer on the receiving end of what let’s face it was an act of gratuitous violence that I actually believe in the principles of free speech.

I believe we should act in a civilised manner in a world where we are faced with acts of uncivilised and terrorist actions and shouldn’t respond in kind through the use of torture or gratuitous violence.

But then again I’m not perfect and have never claimed to be and as such I find that whatever my principles I’m also prone to thoughts of violence and a feeling of schadenfreude.

Watching replays of  Tim Rodber ‘dispensing justice’ such as that Richard Spencer received is actually a pleasure I admit to enjoying.

Of course it should be condemned completely and unreservedly but if it upsets anyone then all I can say is “Bugger it” there is deep down inside of me and I suspect a great deal of others the feeling that it isn’t only satisfying seeing a Nazi of Racist being thumped but should if you are capable of doing so be a moral duty to administer it.