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Tuesday, September 08, 2009

The right to offend - revisited

The New Statesman blog has an interesting piece on an announcement by Trevor Phillips, the Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission that 'there will be new work on .... hate crime against learning-disabled people, religion and belief, and age discrimination.'

The author wonders what is afoot: 'The problem is that the Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006 already goes considerably further than that in its references to "threatening" words, behaviour, written material and public performance of a play. As Liberty warned at the time: "Criminalising even the most unpalatable, illiberal and offensive speech should be approached with grave caution in a democracy."'

He concludes: 'This is the real worry about further "work" in this area: that well-meant legislation on hate crimes ends up giving force to a new right not to be offended that has not, and should not have, any place on the statute book.'

That statement is absolutely correct. I already have form on this of course and as a Liberal and a Democrat will defend to the absolute limits the right of somebody to offend others within the limits of the law. But what if the bigots and the politically correct get their way and restrict our rights to exercise these freedoms through changes to the law?

Civil disobedience and protest are one avenue, and that is a right we may exercise as well provided we are prepared to take the consequences for our actions. But before that we have to be alert to any proposals and stand-up against those who might take away our liberties. This is not a threat that can be taken lightly.
I am not sure this is the best post coming from a man that yesterday thought to cheapen the battle against racial hatred by using it as a tool to attack plaid. shame on you
I have no idea what you are talking about. I have never accused PLaid Cymru of racism or of racial hatred because clearly that is not true. You on the other hand seem content to try and perpetuate a smear about me and challenge my right to freedom of speech behind the cloak of anonynmity. Where is the honour in that?
I think the phrase 'Civil Disobedience' was first coined by Henry David Thoreau in his short work of this title arguing against slavery in the US.
Thank you for proving my point on freedom of speech by refusing to publish my c omment simply because it highlighted the poor argument you presented.

Shows you style of politics Peter
If you care to re-post your inaccurate comments in your own name then I will happily publish them and respond to them. Whilst you remain anonymous then I feel no obligation to respond to what is effectively trolling. My comments policy is set out on the blog, if you adhere to it then that is fine, if you don't then that is your risk.

This is not about freedom of speech it is about the effective management of my site and ensuring it is not taken over by Trolls. You have the freedom to set up your own blog of course and express yourself as you wish.

By the way, I do publish 95% of the comments I get.
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