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The Crime and Disorder Act 1998; the Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006

Comment 22nd July 2010

Both of these acts of parliament have had a baleful and pernicious influence on our society since they were enacted and I would like to see them both scrapped. The 1998 act introduced the concept of "racially aggravated harassment", the title of the 2006 act speaks for itself.

These laws have created the concept of  "Thought Crime", i.e. in both cases these laws provide the power for the state to persecute citizens for what they may have thought and not for what they actually have done.

And in practice, these laws provide for some petty official to use the power of the state to harrass a person on the basis of what said official thinks of that person. These laws are, in fact, carte-blanche for the state to harrass someone on the basis of opinion only.

A clear and baleful abuse of power, and it must be stopped.

Why does this matter?

In both cases these laws seek to penalise people for what they think, not for what they have done. And they are successfully being used to initiate witch-hunts in the public sector. For example, John Dixon, the Welsh Lib Dem councillor with a dim view of Scientology, faces a ban from office for "failing to show respect and consideration to others"; and Chris Hollis, who objected to the gipsy site near Bristol, was admonished by his local authority because his letter contained "discriminatory and insulting arguments".

These laws have established a climate within which such pettiness flourishes to the detriment of any common sense. Junior officials are terrified of allowing anything to pass that might seem remotely offensive to others and this ethos has spread through the public sector and the criminal justice system.

These laws are the horrid and ugly face of Labour's political correctness movement and they should be deleted from our leglislature in their entirety. Society would be a much better off without them.

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