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One should be thankful, I suppose, that Mohammed is not a warmist.
Brits have battled this problem for centuries, and developed innuendo as an art form for self-defense
It's worse than you think.
You can now get arrested for "playing contentious tunes".
Yes there definitely is a trend of these cases happening that seems significant. I have yet to see a single case where I have felt the slightest acceptance of the idea of the punishment for the supposed crime.
Currently there seems to have appeared from nowhere an idea of a claimed public "indignation" that seems to have gained a tangible influence – maybe a confluence of that in tandem with a judiciary and political class more adept at PR and posturing that makes this so dodgy.
The trouble is I think is that we have a situation where it is hard to make time and space for the difficult arguments *for* free speech, no matter how obnoxious it is, because you are easily drowned out by the cheap appeals to emotion by many of the special interests and PR types who know how to play these games.
Fresh intangible hurts and offences that cannot be quantified are elevated above real historic observable and measurable stuff because it makes it easier for the mediocre to reign.
I think this is sign of a mediocre age in society - a poverty of purpose and backbone in people who should lead by example.
I have my hopes this is a phase that will run its course, maybe after some “watershed” moment.
Pardon my ignorance but what laws were broken in these cases?
From the Ecclesiastical Uncle, an old retired bureaucrat in a field only remotely related to climate with minimal qualifications and only half a mind.
Under what law are these convictions made? Statutory? Or common? Actually, I can’t see that it matters because I am sure that Parliament, being sovereign, can amend or revoke both.
Some hope, I suppose.
It's a good article. Rare for the Telegraph these days. It seems to me quite right to make comparisons with the Diana effect - when anybody not ostentatiously grieving was likely to be assaulted. We still see it with the dreaded floral tributes. Personally I don't like obscenities or offensive remarks but I fnd it even more offensive to criminalise such things. It's just wrong.
Centuries of struggle for free speech dismissed in excursions of emotion and, as the article says, some kind of playing to the gallery of presumed public opinion. Who knew our laws were so flexible as to permit such persecutions?
It seems we have not moved very far in 30 years.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BO8EpfyCG2YI remember particularly the line, whilst PC Savage was chastised by his CO (Rowan Atkinson) for arresting an individual who was:"Wearing a loud shirt in a built-up area, after the hours of darkness..."
Chap with the T Shirt was done under Section 4...a highly contentious Section of the Public Order Act 1986.
The chap already bore a grudge against the police. This is unlikely to abate in the following 8 months, methinks!
Joe PublicYou have always been able to get arrested in Northern Ireland for "playing contentious tunes"!!Re: the Diana effect.On the afternoon of her funeral about half-a-dozen of us were standing around the bar of our local rugby club — nice bright sunny day, first league game of the season kicking off at 3; usual banter with the players ...One of our senior members, an ex-DI with head as firmly screwed on as most of us, said - very tentatively (not like him) - "Is it just me or .....?" The relief among the rest of us was palpable and once that particular dam had burst there was hardly anyone in the club who didn't agree that the whole business was OTT (and then some!).As the comments below the DT article suggest (allowing for the presence of the usual nutters) Reidy's article has struck a similar note.Now, how many people out there are in the same position as far as cAGW is concerned, I wonder?
What we see happening in the courts is, in part, a reflection of what we read, see, and hear in the media. As a result they must, in part, be held accountable for not properly exercising free speech.
Step up, the BBC.
The BBC has been recently hoist on it's own petard regarding Jimmy Savile. Looking at the archives of comments posted on the reports of his death, you can see that others making the same allegations were censored. [Some other comments referencing these were not deleted.]
It is not a one-off incident. I have had a comment upon a deceased BBC scriptwriter deleted. My comment was solely about artistic merit, saying that the [living] actors deserved the greater kudos. If the BBC thinks that comments on their obits and reports of deaths should contain only unalloyed praise, then they should say so, then people can go elsewhere to practice free speech. Yet I doubt that the same moderation policies applied to reports of the death of Osama Bin Laden or Saddam Hussein.
If the BBC were less in awe of media "personalities" that they have played a part in creating, then they might be less afraid of the consequences arising from free-speech. The recent John Terry court case and FA disciplinary hearing attracted a lot of articles and column inches, but I cannot recall seeing a single BBC web article that allowed any comments at all. I have no crystallised opinion to express on the case, but I think it tells us something about the BBC attitude to free speech when it comes to sensitive issues such as racism.
Why does the BBC take the tack that it does? Is it fear of expensive court actions? Many large internet sites allow a much greater latitude with few apparent legal consequences. How much do BBC moderators get paid? It can't be that expensive based on the amount that actually seems to get done.
Or is it perhaps just BBC editorial and employment policy. Things that might have a simple, if slow, remedy. Things such as, for example, employing more science editors or writers that actually have a formal training in science up to Ph.D. level?
The "chap with the T-shirt" -- Barry Thew -- was charged under section 4A of the Public Order Act, more precisely, according to this. The punishment allocated was four months' imprisonment.
The summary of this section in Guidance on the Act is "using threatening, abusive or insulting words ... intending to and causing harassment, alarm or distress." Seems rather vague, and not especially applicable to this instance where there is no apparent target of hostility.
Slightly OT but still on the subject of public offence - I've enjoyed loathing Tories for decades, but I feel sorry for Andrew Mitchell being hauled over the coals by the oh-so-saintly police because *they say* he used a vaguely offensive word to describe the berk who ordered him to get his bike off the road and onto the pavement. We have *evidence* that the vaguely offensive word was uttered because it has been written in a police officer's notebook. And that means it happened (except when they lie).
Meanwhile, why has nobody questioned the actions of the police in this incident in the first place? Mitchell was riding his bike on a ROAD. The police deemed the pavement to be the the right and proper place for a bike. We can, of course be assured that if Mitchell had been riding his bike on the pavement, the police would have been delighted for this illegal activity to have gone unmolested. Or not.
Seems to me that the word 'pleb' was far too generous.
West-of-Pond also has an outbreak of attacks on free-speech. We imagine that we have the greatest extent of this freedom in the world. I wonder.
John Shade (Oct 13, 1:02 PM) is right. The current situation is a deliberate, careful unpicking of the rights our forefathers have fought and lost their lives for over centuries; now we have to learn that anyone in any position of authority is right, and if you argue with them you are wrong. "They" know best. And of course we have "free speech" ... just so long as we don't say anything that might, conceivably, upset anyone for any reason, whether "they" have defined the reason yet or not.
We are no longer to be trusted. This is amply evidenced by the number of CCTV cameras trained on us as we go about our innocent business, making us into "data subjects" whose actions, facial expressions, gait, whatever they think of next are to be analysed at leisure by unknown, unaccountable persons according to unknown, unvoted-for rules, to make sure that no-one steps out of line. Protesters are uniformly faced down with the claim that "if you're doing nothing wrong, you have nothing to fear". No? How about my fear that my right to mind my own business is being infringed scores of times every day by authorities which all-too-obviously no longer serve the public?
It is evidenced by the ANPR cameras which track vehicles as they move around the country, the authorities claiming that this is to catch untaxed or stolen vehicles, or those involved in a crime. Were this so, then vehicles not fitting any suspicious category would be erased from the system after a short time, but they are not. All records are kept for seven years.
It is evidenced by local councils putting people under surveillance to make sure that their claim to live in the catchment area for a given school is not false, that they are not nefariously leaving their bins on the pavement beyond the legally appointed time or failing to pick up their dog's mess. It is evidenced, ultimately, by the default assumption that any individual having any contact with authority - or none - is dishonest, a scammer, a terrorist, a benefit scrounger, whatever category can be warped to misinterpret that individual's actions in the most unfavourable way.
Until thirty or forty years ago, we believed ourselves to be a free people, served by a regulated market. As financial and corporate interests have arrogated to themselves more and more power over our "democratic" system, we find increasingly that we are to be regarded as a regulated people serving a free market. How that process is to be reversed I don't claim to know, but it must be. Meanwhile, I state perfectly sincerely that this is not the country I wanted to grow old in, and that seeing what has happened to my once confortable, easygoing country makes my flesh crawl.
What prudish, priggish times we live in.
I am insulted and offended on a daily basis by, for example, the very existence of religious zealots, let alone their loony pronouncements. But I don't complain or expect them to be prosecuted for using "threatening, abusive or insulting words". I just live with it.
With their blind acceptance of political correctness, today's generation has a heck of a lot to answer for.
Let us jnot forget the wholesale gagging of climate scientists by the mullahs of the Committee for the Suppression of Vuce and Promotion of Virtue at the Ayatollah Watt's madrassa , or the bloodcurdling ululation of this true belever
Russell-There is no equivalence between what goes on at a blog, and what government chooses to suppress and punish. Unless you think that blog owners are allowed to imprison and fine participants. That comment is not relevant to this thread.
Suppression of Vuce? What has la Ventanilla Única de Comercio Exterior to do with the subject?
Let us not forget the wholesale gagging of climate scientists....
This is meant to be satirical surely. The only scientists being gagged are the sceptics either deliberately by Auntie BBC or by fear of the consequences me and I suspect many others whose job's would be at risk if we dared to question the consensus in public.
Wind 'em up and wait for the percussion blast.
Tried and sentenced in the court of public opinion, it matters not what is actually right and wrong, or the facts of the actual case - the truth of any incident, Hillsborough, Savile - is set according to public opinion and nowadays that means the foul mouthed majority and that is a frightening thought but it is one that administrations past and present have actively encouraged.
A far worse sin, is to be seen and heard going against the grain of 'popular opinion' - which is gobbledegook for the the government set agenda.
In order for the authorities to exercise control, mass indoctrination and coerce the people into maintaining toeing the line - a clever mix of spin, lies, agitprop, misdirection and covert briefing against and undermining individuals all goes on.Pressure to conform, is exerted all the time by the authorities - be they local councils, or big brother in Whitehall and in Brussels - this is ridiculously easy in Britain. Britain, where the vast majority of people are law abiding men and women - fining them for not placing the correct rubbish in the blue or green bin, exercises that authority and is a deliberate and evident demonstration of just who is the boss.
There are so many petty offences, minor infractions for which we can now be fined. From pillar to post, the population is pushed around and bullied by an ever increasing army of apparatchiks who are emboldened through their mission creep strategies - as the saying goes, "a little power corrupts............." .
I'll bypass the re-education centres; schools, colleges and universities have been overrun by conformists to the government line and who then spout their 'newspeak filth' unchallenged. Global warming a big new 'extra' - which naturally of course is another EU dogma.
And which in due course - if you play the game makes you a rich boy or girl, ask Neil Kinnock and his school teacher wife.
To speak up, to speak out of turn, to be different, to tell the truth in "newspeak world" can be a very difficult choice to make, in public spaces and areas, one must be careful what you say to who and be wary of being overheard - the council's spies and useful idiots are everywhere - yes it is that bad, after all, all it takes is a phone call and everyone has a phone, some of which can record conversations.
Vilification and black propaganda are now regularly used tools of state, Brown called climate realists "flat earthers" and named another a "bigot" for her perfectly reasonable view of mass immigration, that's OK but if it is the other way around, or if you just express an opinion which is different - then, the 'on message' mob can be summoned, saying anything against the London Olympics was almost akin to blaspheming in 14th century Spain, or 21st century Saudi Arabia and Tower Hamlets.
21st Century Britain, is now a surveillance state, where free speech has been ended and democracy is only a dream.The liberal totalitarians, the cultural Marxists, Sharia have won the day, Britain is not a free country, step out of line and then you'll know just what I mean.
I understand that it is now accepted that Voltaire never actually wrote: « Je ne suis pas d'accord avec ce que vous dites, mais je me battrai jusqu'au bout pour que vous puissiez le dire » which is a shame, because some really great man really should have said it.
On the other hand, there is little doubt that John Donne really did write:-"No man is an Island, entire of itself; ... And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee."
The erosion of freedom of speech diminishes us all.
Well I disagree with every comment so far. I think the comments about British soldiers burning in hell and the T shirt glorying in the death of a British police woman are unacceptable. Freedom carries with it responsibilities whether you are talking actions or words and these people went too far.I do not want to comment on what should be done about it until I think some more.
Re Diana,I think Time Rice summed it up about right (just change the names)
Oh what a circus! Oh what a show!Argentina has gone to townOver the death of an actress called Eva PeronWe've all gone crazyMourning all day and mourning all nightFalling over ourselves to get all of the misery rightOh what an exit! That's how to go!When they're ringing your curtain downDemand to be buried like Eva PeronIt's quite a sunsetAnd good for the country in a roundabout wayWe've made the front page of all the world's papers todayBut who is this Santa Evita?Why all this howling hysterical sorrow?What kind of goddess has lived among us?How will we ever get by without her?She had her moments--she had some styleThe best show in town was the crowdOutside the Casa Rosada crying, "Eva Peron"But that's all gone nowAs soon as the smoke from the funeral clearsWe're all going to see how she did nothing for years!
Meanwhile, I state perfectly sincerely that this is not the country I wanted to grow old in, and that seeing what has happened to my once confortable, easygoing country makes my flesh crawl.Oct 13, 2012 at 3:46 PM Steve C
Could not agree more - hence my now living elsewhere.
It is clear that the civil service/local govt/etc to a large extent now regard the general population as the enemy, needing to be made to conform to arbitrary regulations, surveyed and disciplined.
I totally agree, I am in favour of people being free to call for revolution if necessary but the subject of this thread was a Muslim calling for British soldiers to burn in hell and an ignorant thug celebrating the murder of a British Policewoman answering a call for help.I do not believe that those people who fought for free speech had these people in mind.
In case anybody hasn't noticed yet, the site to which Russell's post links is fake.
What's got Arthur dent's towel in a twist?:
"This is meant to be satirical surely."
To a first approximation, Hadji Willard of Whatsupistan has banned the whole sidebar of RealClimate from corrupting the eyes and ears of his congregation.
Oct 13, 2012 at 11:25 PM | Russell
Wow! How dense can you be? What has blog policy anywhere got to do with the the subject of this page?
I expected someone to make that retarded equivalency and I am glad it came from the side of the true believers. ;)
Oct 13, 2012 at 2:37 PM | SayNoToFearmongers
I don't think your point is at all OT, the Andrew Mitchell case is a delightful side issue for me. The politicians that embrace this low power "indignation" currency of public conciousness are getting hoist by their own petard. Look forward to it cascading to a ridiculous level. Maybe that will be the watershed moment?
Dung," I think the comments about British soldiers burning in hell and the T shirt glorying in the death of a British police woman are unacceptable."Well for the record, so do I. But there is a big difference between something being unacceptable and something being criminal. You can't just defend freedom of speech for the people who agree with you! If these animals had been inciting people to violence, they would have committed an illegal act, and the law is clear on the subject - and correctly so. As it is, what they did was certainly unacceptable, but I would defend their right to do it.I lived and worked for many years in a country, once democratic, which was taken over by stealth by a dictator. After a number of years, he had managed to assume complete control of the judiciary and the legislature, which allowed him to assume complete control of the media. The very few private media companies still in existence are cowed into submission by massive fines imposed by a government-controlled judiciary for any real or imagined anti-government comment. They are also kept in line by the memory of their erstwhile competitors having been physically invaded, nationalised, closed down or confiscated and converted to be yet another government mouthpiece. The same laws used to control corporate media also make it illegal for private citizens to criticize the government or its policies. Reality is whatever the government declares it to be.
Too often, it is only when it is too late does the importance of freedom of speech become apparent. When a government starts to close down freedom of speech, it does not start with the hard targets. It starts by applying legal sanctions against some nutcase who is making statements which the majority of people would find unacceptable. When legislation (or changed interpretation by the judiciary) is then applied to curtail the freedom of speech of this "unacceptable" element in society, we might all applaud. But then we may slowly become aware that your and my freedom of speech has just been severely threatened by the precedent.
Oct 13, 2012 at 7:33 PM | Dung
Great, you have in mind penal punishment for utterances or manifestations of words that offend you.
Or am I being unfair?
Are you just thinking of other peoples feelings?
Where does it begin and end?
Who are you protecting?
What word orderings are you wanting to ban?
How do you know or even guess at what exact word orderings people fought to protect people saying?
'The future must not belong to those who slander the Prophet of Allah'. This was President Obama speaking to the UN, damning and blaming an obscure movie trailer for the attacks on US embassies and the killing of a US Ambassador, at a time when he knew that the attacks were a deliberate al-Qaeda plan on the anniversary of the Twin Towers Inferno. He was lying deliberately and dangerously, and attacking free speech at the same time. An inferno awaits him soon.==================
Oct 13, 2012We need to talk about free speech
LibertarianismWhere do we go from here?
Cue Leopard singing 'Home on the range'.
Oct 14, 2012 at 12:58 AM | Russell
We need to talk about free speechLibertarianismWhere do we go from here?Cue Leopard singing 'Home on the range'.
Eh? Re-quoting the tag and title and comment and saying I am singing "Home on the Range"?
No. Still don't get it.
Mmmm, yeah. Just disappearing up your own fundament now aren't you?
When you make a clear point I'll be here to respond. Hell, I'll even respond to your mutterings ;)
I did not say I had in mind penal punishment, I specifically said I did not want to say what action I thought appropriate until I had thought more about it.
I said only what you said (it is unacceptable) and as above I did not propose a punishment.
I am well aware of the extent to which our government already attempts to control us and I will do all I can to fight it and fight any attempt to prevent me from doing so.
However freedom without responsibility is anarchy, are you all in favour of anarchy?
People are not free to defraud, commit perjury, forgery, bear false witness and prisoners are not free to vote, are people against all these restrictions?
Dung: free speech can only mean freedom for anyone to say anything at any time - whether you like it or not.
Otherwise what is free speech? Freedom to only say things that you like? Freedom to only say things that I like? Freedom to say only things that chime with the zeitgeist?
Be careful with the zeitgeist definition: just after Jimmy Savile's death it would have been a serious crime to say anything bad about him. This week it would now be a serious crime to say anything good about him.
And yes there are some carefully thought out exceptions to the general principle of free speech: for example it is not OK to shout "Fire" in a crowded theatre or for a Mafia boss to say "Kill him".
Re Saville, as he was regarded as almost god like when alive, and used that reputation to raise money for charity (for whatever reason ego/access...); he undoubtedly helped some people who never actually met him. How these people feel about that I wouldn't like to guess.
There seems to be some confusion. Freedom of speech does not exist in the UK, unless perhaps you are of an Islamic bent.
I could say "Behead all those who insult Islam/Mohammed"
I couldn't say "Behead all those who believe in Islam/Mohammed."
Freedom of Speech means whatever we the people decide that it means. You stated:
You then state:
Freedom of Speech is a concept which needs to be defined, as I have already said; there can be no freedom without responsibility.
It's not often you'll find me quoting a rapper, but I think Eminem is right on the money on this issue.
You find me offensive? I find you offensive for finding me offensive.
Where does the madness stop? A police spokesman was interviewed about the t-shirt incident on the Today programme earlier this week and I found his disregard, even contempt, for freedom of speech extremely offensive. Using his own logic against him, he should be locked up.
(Incidentally, if you are easily offended, please don't go looking for the rest of that Eminem lyric!)
Dung,"However freedom without responsibility is anarchy, are you all in favour of anarchy?"
Since you were responding to me, I'll assume that the "you all" is Texan usage second person singular. (The second person plural, as you know, is "yo'all, yo'all".)
No I am not in favour of anarchy. I believe in the rule of just law. Your response is testing hyperbole. I was commenting on the use of the judiciary to suppress freedom of speech and you suggest that somehow that implies that I (and other commenters) want freedom without responsibility. Of course not. Why should you think so? But I do want the freedom to say or write what I think without facing criminal prosecution. And to support that right I will support the right of others to do the same - even when - or maybe especially - when I disagree with them.
Y'all put words in my mouth ^.^I still have said not one thing about punishment or the judiciary, simply that I find the behaviour unacceptable.
What a thread! Especially when you come to it late and can absorb the rich diversity of views at a sitting. Thanks to everyone here (except Russell of course. Why must you take the name of Bertrand in vain?)omnologos
Brits have battled this problem for centuries, and developed innuendo as an art form for self-defense
What prudish, priggish times we live in. I am insulted and offended on a daily basis by, for example, the very existence of religious zealots.
Freedom carries with it responsibilities whether you are talking actions or words and these people went too far. I do not want to comment on what should be done about it until I think some more.
Doug - "I think the comments about British soldiers burning in hell and the T shirt glorying in the death of a British police woman are unacceptable."
Perhaps you should get a T-shirt printed up letting everyone know just how unacceptable you think it is. Of course - you'd have to make your slogan a bit snappier than this.
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