Editorial note: If you have not yet read our mission statement above, please do so in order that you can put our blogs in context.
15 December 2012
BEST KEEP MUM
John Richards, an atheist pensioner from the County of Lincolnshire in England, emailed police to ask what would happen if he put up a sign in the front window of his house saying “religions are fairy stories for adults”.
County police replied that he could be arrested for “causing alarm and distress”.
Richards could, in fact, be prosecuted under section 5 of the 1986 Public Order Act, which creates the offence of harassment and causing alarm or distress.
Under section 5, a person is guilty of this offence if he (sic):
“(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.”
On 12 December 2012 the upper house of the British Parliament, the House of Lords, voted to tone down the catch-all draconian nature of this provision by removing the word “insulting”.
However, this was against the wishes of the UK’s authoritarian far-right government headed by Old Etonian Prime Minister David Cameron, whose administration is currently proposing a slew of “Big Brother”parliamentary bills designed to curb civil liberties, including the establishment of secret courts and the monitoring of all internet communications.
The House of Lords amendment to section five of the Public Order Act is expected to come before the lower house, the House of Commons, early next year.
Hands up those of you who thought Britain was the home of free speech and civil liberties!
Wise up, fellows.
It is ironic that the UK government is mounting its all-out onslaught on civil rights just three years short of the 8ooth anniversary of the signing of Magna Carta, the bedrock of English civil liberties, at Runnymede in 1215 AD.
You might perhaps care to view some of our earlier posts. For instance:
1. Why? or How? That is the question (3 Jan 2012)
2. Partitocracy v. Democracy (20 July 2012)
3. The shoddiest possible goods at the highest possible prices (2 Feb 2012)
4. Capitalism in practice (4 July 2012)
5.Ladder (21 June 2012)
6. A tale of two cities (1) (6 June 2012)
7. A tale of two cities (2) (7 June 2012)
8. Where’s the beef? Ontology and tinned meat (31 Jan 2012)
Every so often we shall change this sample of previously published posts.