What to do with controversial material?

I remember being very shocked the first time I came across a letter from Oswald Mosley in the NUWT archive, even though it was in reply to a standard letter sent out by the NUWT to all MPs asking for this opinion on the Economy Bill in 1931.  I realised that the NUWT would have written to all MPs so as to gain an overall view of responses to the Bill.

Yesterday I found more material in a folder on an NUWT equal pay campaign, this time not directly from Oswald Mosley but from the British Union of Fascists.

Collection ref UWT/D/251/2 ©Institute of Education Archive

The letter (shown above) is a request from Anne Brock Griggs, of the British Union of Fascists, suggesting a debate between with the NUWT on the question of equal pay.  She says that equal pay is a ‘cardinal point in the fascist economy’.  The reply from the NUWT states that they refuse to enter into a debate.  Now, I assume the BUF must have been aware of how involved the NUWT and their members were with equality for all, that is, standing for everything the BUF opposed.  Did they really think the NUWT would be so naive as to give them free publicity?  The BUF response to the second part of the letter, the reference to an ‘anonymous communication’ received at NUWT headquarters (unfortunately no copy of this anonymous communication is included), was that the letter was likely to have been sent by someone against the BUF in order to turn opinion against them.  Sensibly enough the NUWT never responded to the BUF and didn’t engage in dialogue with them.

British Union of Fascists propaganda, Collection ref UWT/D/251/2 ©Institute of Education Archive

The handbill (shown above) which Anne Brock Griggs included with her letter would be laughable if it wasn’t so offensive.  Most of the points read as quite reasonable, in fact ‘equal pay for equal work’ is the exact slogan used by the NUWT in their campaigns.  However even at the time I doubt anyone would be unaware of the hate-filled manifesto of the BUF.  

Of course I described these letters in my cataloguing for the folder but my dilemma was, should I put these images in a blog post?  I was worried about possible uses of the images – there’s still a scary amount of websites out there that seem to support the British Union of Fascists and siilar modern-day equivalents – and I was worried that these images might be misappropriated somehow.  This led to some interesting discussions in work, about the use of disclaimers, about how far our responsibilities go, and what to do with upsetting and controversial material.  After discussion we came to the conclusion that, as long as we put appropriate context and explanation alongside any blog posts, then I should go ahead with it.


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