Freedom of Speech in the UK

Idiot/Savant at blogs:

On March 8, British teenager Azhar Ahmed posted the following to his Facebook account:

People gassin about the deaths of soldiers! What about the innocent familys who have been brutally killed.. The women who have been raped.. The children who have been sliced up..! Your enemy’s were the Taliban not innocent harmless familys. All soldiers should DIE & go to HELL! THE LOWLIFE FOKKIN SCUM! gotta problem go cry at your soliders grave & wish him hell because that where he is going..

For posting this, he was arrested and charged with a “racially aggravated public order offence”. That charge was dropped when he appeared in court – perhaps because even the Yorkshire police could understand that “British soldiers” are not a racial group – and instead substituted with one of using a telecommunications network to send a grossly offensive message. He will face trial in July, and it is unclear what sentence he may face.

Now I agree that one should not face court charges for saying offensive things on the Internet. The threshold should be if you are promoting actual violence or crimes. So for example saying “I hate Jews” should not get you in court (it should get you on the front page of the newspaper though) but saying “We should kill the Jews” should get you in court. Saying “I wish all Jews were dead” doesn’t meet the criminal threshold though (in my opinion).

However it is a pity that Idiot/Savant did not also mention this story, which I blogged on. Also in the UK, a 21 year old student was actually jailed (not just charged) for 56 days for gloating when a black footballer collapsed on the field, saying he hoped he was dead, and also using racial abuse when people challenged him.

Now both these cases had defendents say pretty offensive stuff. I don’t think either should be in court. But does Idiot/Savant think it is okay to send people to jail for saying something racist, but wrong to charge people for saying all British soliders should die and go to hell?

My suspicion is that I/S is more a defender of offensive speech he politically agrees with, than of all offensive speech. If not, I welcome his views on the above case.

UPDATE: A few people have said I am being unfair to say that I suspect I/S is more a defender of speech he agrees with.  He has often defended the right of people like David Irving to be heard, so my comment was unfair and I retract it with apologies.

However I do think that considering how often he posts on this issue, his lack of comment on the UK jail sentence for a racist offensive tweet was unusual. As he did not condemn the jailing, I thought he might actually support “hate speech” laws as many on the left do (which motivated the post – to challenge him on this issue), but having checked he blogged in 2004 that he did not, so really the post was un-necessary.

Comments (25)

Login to comment or vote