We’ve been doing a bit of soul searching here at EBF lately. We’re concerned that we may have been too hard on someone who is actually more a victim than a perpetrator of callous hatred and abuse. We’re not sure but we thought we should ‘put the idea out there’ and see what others think.
The ‘someone’ in question isn’t exactly the most obvious ‘first in line’ for compassion. In fact not all of us think she’s in line for consideration at all, let alone ‘first’. But in the spirit of discussion and sharing of ideas that EBF has always been based upon we’re all happy to put our virtual names to this. Enough of us have doubts to make this blog worth writing.
We’re talking, of course about Jayda Fransen, deputy leader and ‘Fuhrer in waiting’ of Britain First. She’s certainly responsible for a wealth of hate speech and the organisation she fronts clearly intends to stir up as much inter-racial and cultural conflict as it can but our question is ‘how responsible is she’ for that?
We all watched with interest (and for many more than a little cynicism) her performance in the BBC3 documentary ‘We want our country back’ as she hinted but never elaborated on past trauma. We have speculated about the possibility of some sort of early Abuse that might have led her down the road to hatred and I have to admit, even within the team we haven’t all agreed.
Is Jayda the hapless (and potentially helpless) victim of some abusive past?
If so should she be held responsible by the age of 29 for her subsequent anger and hatred?
Or is she just a cynical Nazi using her gender and perceived ‘feminine vulnerability’ to justify her vindictiveness?
It’s certainly possible that Jayda experienced some sort of abuse in her early years. We’ve highlighted before the problems with her account of a late adolescence spent in hostel accommodation rather than a children’s home or foster care. But those details, interesting though they are don’t necessarily mean that nothing happened. Perhaps she used the wrong term when caught off-guard by the interviewer. Perhaps she told a partial truth to protect the feelings of others or perhaps she made the whole thing up. We don’t know.
It’s equally plausible though that nothing untoward happened to Jayda during her early years. We know that historical abuse is a powerful psychological tool in the arsenal of the far right. That’s why they make such a big deal of the events in Rotherham and other places. Exploitation of children, especially of girls is emotive and, from the perspective of the Biffers extremely good for business. If Jayda really was just a cynical manipulator of emotional ‘groupthink’ would she have said anything different?
Finally, even if it’s all true (as it very well might be) should that let Jayda off the hook for the abusive and discriminatory hate speech and incitement that she and her followers spew so regularly and predictably into the life of our nation? Does such a history give her the right to libel and slander others for her own personal profit?
Whatever her past, the reality is that her current behaviours are both malicious and destructive. Jayda undoubtedly profits from other lies. Lies she tells about Muslims, about the Koran and even about her own legal ‘qualifications’. Would a history of childhood trauma of any kind excuse this sort of slanderous trouble-making in an adult?
Should we report upon Jayda’s abusive behaviour more sympathetically?
If so how will that impact upon our work next year when she becomes Fuhrer?
We have no collective answer to these questions. Each of us within the EBF team has our own opinion but there’s no real agreement.
What’s your opinion?