Right to Offend.


Staff member

This new law the governmet has been intending to usher seems bizarre. Surely it's technically impossible to actually divine what act is one calculated to offend? This means to much responsibility in the hands of a judicial system to ascertain what qualifies as an offence; a judicial system which is invariably going to uphold the status quo.

Though ostensibly to protect Muslims it appears more likely to be wielded against ethnic minorities.

And Rowan Atkinson doesnt like it either ;)
Last edited:


Well-known member
clear legislative gobbledook from our cretinous masters...clearly unworkable from legal viewpoints...but more than the act calculated to offend, how can a legal system assess or calculate offendedness? but then the govn clearly likes to lrgislate...tcha
Last edited:


in the sea
If my admittedly brief scanning of the article is correct, then Canada already has a somewhat similar law, banning "hate speech." It's more general though, banning any sort of public incitement to hatred against an "identifiable group." (this seems like a pretty decent summary of the law). It hasn't been a super oppressive tool, as far as I can tell, though it certainly has the potential to be used as such. In truth though, I'm largely ignorant of the specific history of the law, it's just that I don't remember any big cases of abuse.

As for your question of how to tell what offends or not, when I googled the topic I found this story which I had forgotten about. Basically the Canadian Supreme Court ruled that holocaust denial did not count as hate speech...which is really weird in that, here's the law being used in exactly the opposite direction to how you would think it would be used. So yeah, obviously it depends very strongly on how the law is actually carried out in the courts. Personally, I do agree that its mostly a tool for maintaining the status quo, but not always i guess....(unless holocaust denial really is the status quo in Canada!)
Last edited:


Well-known member
seem to have fixed log in issues

"forthright affirmation of the principle of freedom of speech for those who reject the Holocaust extermination story is particularly gratifying at a time when dissident views of twentieth-century history are banned in Israel and several European states"

from the article linked to above...pretty disturbing language, disturbing site

but i don't think it an issue that should involve courts or govenments particularly...the potential for misuse outweighs any obvious benefits...
Last edited:


in the sea
rewch said:
from the article linked to above...pretty disturbing language, disturbing site
Ah shit. I actually was a bit hasty in posting that link, only skimmed the article and didn't realize the position it was coming from, nor that the whole SITE was devoted to that shit (last thing I want to do is give the bastards more traffic). my apologies. exercising my right to offend, i guess...but again the interesting fact is that that is PROTECTED under the hate speech laws of Canada. Intepretations can be a very weird thing...
Last edited:


I think the whole business is very, very disturbing. Free speech must be sacrosanct.

Rod Liddle wrote a very enjoyable demolition of the proposed legislation in last week's Sunday Times, highlighting how reactionary, ill-considered and absurd it all is:


Comment: Rod Liddle: Ha ha! You can’t insult Islam but I can

Here’s a short Christmas quiz. Let me rephrase that. It’s a short Winterval quiz. I would not wish to frighten or alienate any Sunday Times readers by waving Jesus Christ in their faces.
Anyway, the first question is this. One of the two statements below may soon be illegal; the other will still be within the law. You have to decide which is which and explain, with the aid of a diagram, the logic behind the new provision. a) Stoning women to death for adultery is barbaric. b) People who believe it is right to stone women to death for adultery are barbaric.

The answer is that a) should be fine and b) may land you in court charged with inciting religious hatred against Islam, under new provisions in David Blunkett’s Serious Organised Crime and Police Bill. He’s been a busy bee of late, hasn’t he. One wishes he had spent more time with Kimberly Quinn and less time behind his desk forcing ID cards and other profoundly illiberal legislation on the rest of us. Bear in mind, too, we already have legislation preventing incitement to violence.

The basis for the question above comes from a conversation I had with a diligent and helpful press officer at the Home Office. Blunkett’s plan to make the incitement of religious hatred a crime had been unveiled earlier in the week and provoked a furore.

The comedian Rowan Atkinson said this: “For telling a good and incisive joke (about religion), you should be praised. For telling a bad one, you should be ridiculed and reviled. The idea that you could be prosecuted for the telling of either is quite fantastic.”

Exactly — and Mr Blunkett was swift to respond. Apparently, comedians were to be exempt from the law. So, if I sail a little close to the wind in this article, please assume that I’m wearing a red nose. That should put the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) off the scent. Mr Blunkett further added that the provision was intended to protect “individuals” not “ideology”.

However, this does not accord with the bill itself, which would seem to prohibit people from treating the Bible or the Koran “in an abusive or insulting way”. The bill, then, does appear to protect ideology and Mr Blunkett either has no clear idea what it is meant to achieve, other than swing a few votes, or he’s being extremely disingenuous.

Further, the Home Office clearly doesn’t have the slightest clue what would constitute an offence under the new provisions. That Home Office spokesperson told me it “wasn’t about criminalising people making justifiable comments about religion”.

Justifiable? Define, please.

“Well, I can’t say, really . . . you’ve put me in a difficult position. But it’s not about defending religion, per se.”

So what is it about? What would constitute an offence? If I said Islam was stupid, like the French writer Michel Houellebecq, would I be in court? “Definitely not.”

But if I said people who believed in something that was stupid were themselves therefore stupid, would that land me in the dock? “Um. Not sure. Possibly. I just don’t know at this stage. It has to go to the attorney-general first. I suppose, if it were likely to incite people to hate Muslims.” Then the press officer said this. “There are no definitive answers.”

That strikes me as a problem, because the police and the CPS and the judiciary, when they’re attempting to bring a prosecution or trying a case, have a penchant for definitive answers.

Later the press officer rang back. “It’s all about context,” she said. “If you wrote something in your column about Islam the CPS might not be interested, but if the same thing was said by Nick Griffin (the British National party leader) in a pub in Bradford, they might well be.”

So I’m exempt too. Mr Blunkett, or his office, has bestowed upon me an honorary red nose, for which many thanks. But Nick Griffin isn’t exempt. Doesn’t that strike you as a tad unfair, a shade undemocratic? Can you imagine the court case against him? And his defence? Would it be okay if he’d said it in a pub in Droitwich, or Diss? I quite like the idea of person-specific crimes, mind. Perhaps we could devise an offence for which only, say, Robert Kilroy-Silk or Ainsley Harriott were prosecutable.


Well-known member
mmm...thank you mr. liddle...exactly...i like the “There are no definitive answers.” & the “It’s all about context,”...yes we know that, but how are you going to define it &c. &c.? quite makes you want to shake them & say answer the question...

as for you bipedaldave...i wasn't suggesting you were an irvine clone...it was just that i spotted the adverb gratifyingly & thought oyoy...& checked out the journo & thought eek!...strange bedfellows sometimes to be found in rights law issues...but free speech clearly sacrosanct...


Well-known member

"Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me..."

Maybe these magical incantations lose their power over time? Or when spread over a whole culture?

I'm not sure...