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Curtailing racial abuse offences

Comment 22nd July 2010

Under the last  paranoid government, obsessed with controlling every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the citizen, and aided by the police (and the CPS) who see a soft target and are desperate not to seen as non-PC, prosecutions for 'racial abuse' have got completely out of hand. Any expression of dissent with Islam is condemned as racial abuse, while any abuse of other religions is ignored. Instead of protecting Muslims, this in fact serves to increase hostility towards them. I am sure you know of ludicrous prosecutions such as the B&B couple  who were reported by a recent Muslim convert for stating their opinion about Mohammed in reasonable terms. And the woman who, disturbed by yobs throughout the night, eventually cried out 'go back where you came from'. She was prosecuted; the yobs were not. Meanwhile Muslims parade with placards advocating our death and our pathetic police do nothing!

Another absurdity was the recent 'coconut' prosecution. The defendant was simply saying to another black woman: you are not being true to what we black people stand for. You are becoming like a white person'. That may well be insulting but it is not racially insulting – quite the reverse. The defendant was telling the complainant that she belonged to a fine and honourable tradition and that she should not betray it. Because neither the police nor the CPS nor the magistrates were capable of analytical thought this was found to be to be racial abuse. 

The law must be re-drafted so as to criminalise only deliberate abuse of a person's race or religion. It must be made clear that there needs to be an intent to insult. And the ridiculous definition of 'hate crime' must be repealed.

It is noteworthy that the paranoia and hysteria around these issues is found also outside the criminal law. For example, the JP who, offering another chance to a shoplifter, told him to make sure he did not go back to 'that Paki shop' practically lost her job. She had to go for 'diversity training' (this is horribly redolent of both 1984 and Maoist China!). Are we a lunatic society or what? The BBC reporter who used the word golliwog about a black person spoke out of turn, yes, , but — heavens – she did not deserve to lose her job. The Coalition thankfully seeks to bring common sense  to the unchartable mass of legislation with which the last government crippled society. Common sense disavows paranoia and hysteria.

It is like a breath of fresh air to hear the Prime Minister speaking of giving the citizen back the ability to plot his own course. Labour, principally Brown and Harman, sought to mini-manage all aspects of our life. They themselves, pathologically dysfunctional,  were so full of fear that they felt obliged to prescribe (and proscribe) for all the minutiae of our life, terrified that anyone might show any initiative of their own and so be somewhere other than under their control. They did not want citizens. They wanted slaves or robots.

Why does this matter?

Free speech is a cornerstone of the democratic society. Under Labour legislation, aided by the lack of robust common sense from our police and the CPS, and to an extent from the courts, we have become afraid to say anything that a Muslim might not like. We are back to the days when the word 'black' was outlawed from all expressions (whether black coffee or a black look or a black day for England) because the morons at County Hall and elsewhere decided it was disrespectful to black people. A sane line must be drawn between actual racial abuse and merely the everyday exchange of views or voicing of opinions, however robustly expressed.

In other words, redraft the law defining racial abuse so that it doe snot unreasonably impair free speech.

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