There’s a rational and well-intentioned drive to contain offensive factors in society which has produced a culture of exceptional dogmatic and testing strength, it’s what you might call the new narrow-mindedness. It’s a distinct, and powerful want to suppress the uncomfortable voice of descent.
Many people say they’re not narrow-minded, say the softly spoken man, profoundly educated, liberal-minded people, and people appear to respond shrewdly and say they’re really wise words, and yet if you think about this seemingly inarguable observation for longer than five seconds, you’ll understand that all that it’s advocating is the replacement of one kind of intolerance with another.
The latent unfairness of free speech is not addressed by arresting people, they’re addressed by the problems being expressed and dealt with preferably outside the judicial process.
The best way to build societies resistance to free speech is to acknowledge much more of it.
We’re not slaves, nor should we have to bend to our employees and everyone in government is a public servant and they’re our servants because they work for the people, and they should have to answer to us, and we’re entitled to tell them off if we have to.
Rowan Atkinson was not totally right, free speech should not be offensive, but it should be there so that we can have our opinion that we need to get across to the government, and without it, we’re nothing more than cattle.
What happened to our freedom of speech, now if you say what you think you get arrested for it but everybody should be empowered to free speech so long as it’s done in a dignified way.
Rowan Atkinson’s views were neither philosophically new or particularly well thought out because hate speech usually results in humiliating behaviour and lots of injuries. Look at Brexit, that ended up with lots of hysteria over immigration which led to an increase in racialist crimes.
Boris Johnson made a remark that women bearing Burkas resembled letterbox’s, and that ended up in Islamaphobic attacks, and that sort of free speech ends up pissing people off.
Rowan Atkinson appears to be living in a vested, white male, Western bubble, saying that free speech doesn’t necessarily have to be inside contextual boundaries, but some free speech can create more prejudice, harm and brutality.
Insults are rude and some people would like to see a lot less of them, but who determines whether the words on billboards or opinions that people have are insulting? People themselves, the police or judges? Or should it ever be a criminal matter at all?
But under Section 5 of the Public Order Act, the police and the courts can determine if you or someone else might feel offended.
Do we actually require the police and the courts to dispense with insults? Should we not simply accept that the risk of insult is a fair price to pay for living in a society which values free speech?
A man stood up in the middle of London and crooned a tune about a guy who killed his girlfriend in a resentful rage, the lyrics appeared to accuse it largely on the girl. Watching the vocalist from a nearby spectator stand was the Prime Minister, the Archbishop of Canterbury and much of the Royal family.
They waved and even hummed along with the song, “Why, why, why, Delilah?” Some of them also shook tiny Union Jack flags to support this delightful little song of death, “I felt the knife in my hand and she laughed no more”.
But one question arises, why did the police not immediately arrest them all, the Royal family, the Prime Minister and the Archbishop under section 5 of the Public Order Act?
Don’t be silly, you say, but it would be any more stupid than a student being detained under section 5 for saying to a mounted policeman that his horse is gay, or somebody being charged and convicted, then cleared on appeal for delivering what was reported as a daft little growl and a woof at two labradors or someone holding up a sign outside the Church of Scientology in central London saying, Scientology is not a religion, and that it’s a dangerous cult.
Then there was the gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, arrested and charged for roaring slogans and illustrating posters denouncing the oppression of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual people by Islamic governments, throughout a demonstration at a Hizb ut-Tahrir rally.
And an evangelical Christian preacher who was convicted and penalised for holding up a home-made sign that, with the slogan “Jesus is Lord”, blazoned: “Stop immorality, stop homosexuality, stop lesbianism.”
All these are actual cases of British police exploitation of a law so loosely worded that it invites such abuse. That is why a campaign to amend section 5 was recently launched by an unusual alliance of Christians, atheists, gay rights activists and politicians of all stripes.
But if we want a clear, protected stand for freedom of expression in Britain, we need to go further.
Section 5 of the 1986 Public Order Act states a person “is guilty of an offence if he (a) uses threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour, or disorderly behaviour, or (b) displays any writing, sign or other visible representation which is threatening, abusive or insulting, within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress thereby”.
There are two points wrong with this catch-all wording. First, unlike section 4 of the same act, and Britain’s law on provocation to hatred on grounds of faith or sexual orientation, it does not need proof of an intention to create harassment, alarm or distress.
The standard is very “likely to”. Who determines what is “likely to” be caused harassment, alarm or distress? On the street, the police do. Then, the Crown Prosecution Service may then decide not to prosecute, or the court may toss the case out.
Then there is the word “insulting”. The government has denied its extraction partially on the grounds that the courts would have the odious business of identifying between the merely insulting and the abusive or threatening, but why shouldn’t we be allowed to insult so long as it doesn’t end up in threatening or injurious behaviour?
The reason we shouldn’t be allowed to insult is because as grown-ups and being more mature than a child, we can take the various insulting behaviour, but as children, it’s deemed as bullying, and that’s solely what insulting behaviour is, and there are specific aspects of this behaviour that is tolerable and some that’s not, and we should be able to differentiate between the two.
To make this country’s free speech laws fair, benevolent and harmonious, we should not only remove the word “insulting” from section 5, we should abolish section 5 in its entirety. Maybe, we should further remove the word “insulting” from section 4, although that quite rightly dispense with genuine menaces of violence.
We should be able to identify what is a wrong intention, and what someone might see as insulting, another person might not, and we have to identify what is said in malice and what is said as a joke.
Four eyes, big nose and ginger minger are frequently said as a joke, and many people don’t find it offensive, on the other hand, there are those people out there that might, depending what context it’s been said.
Ethnic prejudice is not acceptable and we’re supposed to be living in a mature multicultural society and we should be accepting of those that live in it, after all, we’re all human beings, but that doesn’t imply that we aren’t allowed to have an opinion, so long as it’s not done in an ugly way, but as I said before, what some people might feel is offensive another might not.
Times have changed, people have changed and our culture has changed. Ethnic prejudice is at its pinnacle, along with sexual orientation, and there are various human diversities that appear to be a problem now, but pain and distress to another person is not acceptable, particularly if it’s done with hatred.
There are various ways that we can still have free speech as long as it’s done in a dignified way, and to not cause infliction to others. Sadly, standing up for free speech usually means supporting those people who say unacceptable things, and free speech is good, but it doesn’t give license for people to post insulting stuff on their websites.
Prejudice, sexism, and homophobia remarks are not acceptable forms of free speech, along with slanderous smears, and if I spoke poorly of someone’s children, I would expect to get punched. You can’t provoke, you can’t mock somebody else’s religion, racial background or sexual orientation.
Numerous people will disagree with me and that’s their choice, everybody is allowed their opinion, but there are some things that clearly shouldn’t be mocked, and there is an abyss between reprimanding someone’s religious and political views, and inciting hatred of people because of some innate trait such as race, colour, sexuality and so on is not fair.
Many people might make a poor pun or a slip of the tongue, but sometimes as human beings, we tend to engage our mouth before we engage our brains. That doesn’t make us bad people, it simply makes us foolish, and usually after reflecting about what we’ve said we realise we made a really bad mistake.
We should treat others the same way that we would want to be treated ourselves, but many of us don’t because most of us are the sheeple of society and we follow everybody else and focus on what they’re doing because most of us wander around with their brains permanently attached to their arse.
Oops, did I say that out loud…
We live in a new society now, and whether we like it or not, we need to work it out before we destroy each other, but of course, that’s exactly what our government want. They put the fabrications out there, and we believe what the media tells us instead of investigating it for ourselves, then the seed of poison is there… there’s that apple again from that Garden of Eden, and the more we’re told we can’t do it or we can’t have it the more we want to do it or the more we want to have it.
The trouble is we don’t live in no Garden of Eden, this is not Utopia, and the more autonomy that we have the more damage we will do, we want to eat that forbidden fruit and we are encouraged to say those forbidden words.
Then you have Snow White’s stepmother who is really wicked and vain (our government). You can picture them all assembling there in parliament with their mirrors, asking who’s the fairest of the land, and of course, that mirror never lies!
We’re a magnificent country of great people that our government are really jealous of, and they’ve turned against the people, and now they’re turning us against each other with that poisoned apple, and we all love a little candy, and if it smells sweet and tastes sweet we assume that it is sweet.
If you shout fire we all believe there is one, but that doesn’t inevitably mean there is a fire, and that’s what we all do, we run like demented twats with everybody else, and that’s precisely what our government are doing, they shout fire and we all believe it.
Some people tend to believe what they’re told, you get cartoons of Jews with enormous snouts and coloured people swaying from trees, and Scottish people depicted as robbers and drunks, and we all chuckle and make fun of it, but not all Jews have big long noses and I don’t ever remember seeing anybody swaying from a tree, unless you’re Tarzan, and I know some very charming Scottish people that have never had a drink in their lives, but we accept this because we’re told this is so, it’s called conditioning, and with this happening, what could possibly go wrong?
Because this only has traction when there’s a broader social support for it, and Jews having prominent beaks encourages resentment against people, it’s like someone saying that a gay person should be thrown off a building, and everyone goes along with it.
Saying that Islam is satanic is the same as saying that Jew’s eat babies or that they have horns growing out of their heads which is simply bullshit and pretty offensive to people, and even though it’s not inciting hatred, it’s really mean-spirited and gets up people’s noses, and I guess if you’re a Jew that wouldn’t be really hard to do, that was a joke by the way, and I am a Jew, and I’m entitled to make fun of myself! As for babies, I couldn’t eat a whole one.
The problem with free speech is that its impact is much controlled by the media, who pick stories that bolster their own beliefs, or is questionable enough to sell more newspapers, but of course, the output of the media is ultimately defined by the readership and viewership, the lower the output ultimately reflects on the population’s beliefs, prurience and shallowness.
Sadly, newspapers are simply toilet paper that you can clean your behind with, which once upon a time was precisely what it was used for after inspection… not your behind, the newspaper!
Now the internet is a public forum and some newspapers support free speech with a comments box, which I really think is a great idea, at least they can slag each other in writing and not in person where there would end up being fisty cuffs, or handbags at ten paces, after all, there’s nothing more demeaning that somebody brawling in the street over some political agenda, racism or somebody being gay.