This photo sums up the times we are living in. Masked and socially distanced Merseyside, UK police warn the public not to be politically incorrect:
Merseyside Police outside an Asda store today. “Being offensive is an offence.” Staggering. pic.twitter.com/VBeCJsDS2s
— Paul Embery (@PaulEmbery) February 21, 2021
Andrew Doyle, author of Free Speech and Why It Matters, is understandably appalled:
Critics of the police have been quick to point out that offence is entirely subjective, and so it would be impossible to legislate against this reality of everyday life. Following these complaints, the police deleted the tweet and issued a statement to clarify that being offensive ‘is not in itself an offence’.
The police responded to pushback because we are still at a relatively early stage of encroaching tyranny. But that doesn’t mean the statement isn’t already true.
This was a professionally designed digital billboard which must have been approved in advance by numerous members of staff. There will have been meetings and discussions and a consensus would have been reached on the most appropriate wording. Even if the slogan has now been retracted, the fact that it materialised at all suggests something very sinister about the general mindset of those who are trained to enforce the law. After all, between 2014 and 2019, almost 120,000 ‘non-crime hate incidents’ were recorded by police forces in England and Wales. There have been a multitude of instances of police departments tweeting out warnings to the public that they could be arrested for speaking their minds. Irrespective of the legality, it is now standard police practice to monitor the speech of citizens. …
Every year in the UK, over 3,000 people are arrested for falling foul of the 2003 Communications Act by posting something online which causes offence. The legislation is explicit on this score; a prosecution will be secured if the material is deemed by a court to be ‘grossly offensive’. In Scotland, the SNP is persisting with its new Hate Crime Bill, which would mean that private conversations in the home would be subject to prosecution if they can be said to ‘stir up hatred’. Presently a 35-year-old man is facing the prospect of up to six months in prison for posting a derogatory tweet about Captain Sir Tom Moore. When the Merseyside police declared that ‘being offensive is an offence’, they had inadvertently let slip a terrible truth.
No society can remain free without free speech. We are losing it quickly on both sides of the Atlantic.
The principle of free speech has become difficult to defend because so many have accepted the false premise that defending the speech rights of unpleasant people amounts to an endorsement of their words. This is why there is little appetite among politicians to repeal existing ‘hate speech’ legislation included in the Public Order Act 1986 and the Communications Act 2003.
The censors have already moved beyond silencing unpleasant people to suppressing speech that only recently no one would have dreamed was offensive. Even Dr Seuss has been canceled as a thought criminal; consequently, his books are going into the bonfire.
On tips from Dragon’s Lair and Varla.
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