That the UK conforms to Article 9 of the ECHR and stops jailing people for their beliefs

Article 9 provides a right to freedom of thought,, conscience and religion. This includes the freedom to change a religion or belief.

Yet – here in the UK, people are still jailed for their beliefs.

Why is this idea important?

Article 9 provides a right to freedom of thought,, conscience and religion. This includes the freedom to change a religion or belief.

Yet – here in the UK, people are still jailed for their beliefs.

A series of proposals to reform the necessary yet currently overbearing Racial Hatred provisions of the Public Order Act 1986

"Black/white/hispanic/asian community representatives are not currently doing enough to help tackle youth crime within their respective communities".

Unfortunately under the current wording of the Public Order Act 1986, a temperately worded statement of the kind above would place whoever uttered it at serious risk of arrest – even if if the intention behind such words was simply to engage the attention of revelant community representatives to bring about the changes which only they can effectively provide at a grass roots level. However, the Public Order Act 1986 currently proscribes arrest for "Threatening, abusive or insulting words likely to stir up hatred", and therefore, innocent motives are not always protected. The above statement could be considered "insulting", and might even be deemed "likely to stir up hatred" in certain circumstances – but should I be held liable for this? Such an objective test leaves all kinds of public discourse liable to arrest despite the innocent (albeit perhaps misguided) intentions of the speaker. I don't believe a pluralist, democratic society should be prosecuting its citizens for temperate criticism with innocent motives, and I believe a better balance would be as follows:

In the subjective part of these provisions, "insulting, abusive or threatening words intended to stir up hatred" should remain on the statute book as is currently the case

However, vis-a-vis the objective test of "likely to stir up hatred", only "threatening or abusive words" should be arrestable.

This way, temperate criticism with innocent motives of the kind I outlined at the start would be protected, yet those untrue allegations against the whole community could be continued to be dealt with under the threatening provision, and racial slurs/seriously inflammatory adjectives under the abusive threashold, without having to prove that the speaker intended to be threatening or intended to be abusive.

This seems like a more reasonable balance if we are to prevent convictions similar to that which befell Shirley Brown in June of this year, a black councillor from Bristol who was found guilty of using words "likely to incite racial hatred" when she called another black councillor a coconut (imputing that she was really white on the inside). This may be insulting, but should such insult be prosecuted if the speaker didn't intend to incite racial hatred? To my mind, it should not.

Why is this idea important?

"Black/white/hispanic/asian community representatives are not currently doing enough to help tackle youth crime within their respective communities".

Unfortunately under the current wording of the Public Order Act 1986, a temperately worded statement of the kind above would place whoever uttered it at serious risk of arrest – even if if the intention behind such words was simply to engage the attention of revelant community representatives to bring about the changes which only they can effectively provide at a grass roots level. However, the Public Order Act 1986 currently proscribes arrest for "Threatening, abusive or insulting words likely to stir up hatred", and therefore, innocent motives are not always protected. The above statement could be considered "insulting", and might even be deemed "likely to stir up hatred" in certain circumstances – but should I be held liable for this? Such an objective test leaves all kinds of public discourse liable to arrest despite the innocent (albeit perhaps misguided) intentions of the speaker. I don't believe a pluralist, democratic society should be prosecuting its citizens for temperate criticism with innocent motives, and I believe a better balance would be as follows:

In the subjective part of these provisions, "insulting, abusive or threatening words intended to stir up hatred" should remain on the statute book as is currently the case

However, vis-a-vis the objective test of "likely to stir up hatred", only "threatening or abusive words" should be arrestable.

This way, temperate criticism with innocent motives of the kind I outlined at the start would be protected, yet those untrue allegations against the whole community could be continued to be dealt with under the threatening provision, and racial slurs/seriously inflammatory adjectives under the abusive threashold, without having to prove that the speaker intended to be threatening or intended to be abusive.

This seems like a more reasonable balance if we are to prevent convictions similar to that which befell Shirley Brown in June of this year, a black councillor from Bristol who was found guilty of using words "likely to incite racial hatred" when she called another black councillor a coconut (imputing that she was really white on the inside). This may be insulting, but should such insult be prosecuted if the speaker didn't intend to incite racial hatred? To my mind, it should not.

Legal Counsel for Persons Sectioned under MHA

All persons involuntarily sectioned under the Mental Health Act should be given immediate access to legal counsel and should be given the option to challenge their sectioning publicly in court.

Why is this idea important?

All persons involuntarily sectioned under the Mental Health Act should be given immediate access to legal counsel and should be given the option to challenge their sectioning publicly in court.

The government should encourage self-moderated forums

Many site users here including myself have had posts removed by the moderators for in our view inadequate reasons, based on other protests I've seen here.

Moderated forums in general present a problem, because the moderator is constantly asked to take sides – i.e. decide between somebody's right to post, and the rights of somebody complaining about a post.

The best solution would be SELF-MODERATED forums, such as exist on the BBC 606 site, so that whoever starts a thread can delete abusive comments on it if they please, as the BBC put it "are in control of their space."

Because otherwise we just have the constant DENIAL OF FREE SPEECH.

To put it simply, I want the right to say what I want on MY idea page without being abused, and I give in return the right to everybody else to do the same, say what they like on THEIR PAGE, and delete any comments they find abusive.

The tag system on this site is for example a major source of ANONYMOUS ABUSE, and once again, should be under the control of whoever starts the page, unless the site administrators are quite happy about the poster being abused, as appears to be the case on this site to date.

Why is this idea important?

Many site users here including myself have had posts removed by the moderators for in our view inadequate reasons, based on other protests I've seen here.

Moderated forums in general present a problem, because the moderator is constantly asked to take sides – i.e. decide between somebody's right to post, and the rights of somebody complaining about a post.

The best solution would be SELF-MODERATED forums, such as exist on the BBC 606 site, so that whoever starts a thread can delete abusive comments on it if they please, as the BBC put it "are in control of their space."

Because otherwise we just have the constant DENIAL OF FREE SPEECH.

To put it simply, I want the right to say what I want on MY idea page without being abused, and I give in return the right to everybody else to do the same, say what they like on THEIR PAGE, and delete any comments they find abusive.

The tag system on this site is for example a major source of ANONYMOUS ABUSE, and once again, should be under the control of whoever starts the page, unless the site administrators are quite happy about the poster being abused, as appears to be the case on this site to date.

freedom of speech

All laws that stop or inhibit freedom of speech to be abolished or freedom of speech to be paramount over any existing or future laws. It does mean people will have to listen to objectionable views but more importantly it guarantees that people can object or voice an opinion on any subject without fear of prosecution or intimidation threatening prosecution in order to silence them.

Why is this idea important?

All laws that stop or inhibit freedom of speech to be abolished or freedom of speech to be paramount over any existing or future laws. It does mean people will have to listen to objectionable views but more importantly it guarantees that people can object or voice an opinion on any subject without fear of prosecution or intimidation threatening prosecution in order to silence them.

Repeal blasphemy laws

Unlike many proposals this is pure principal. There are almost no prosecutions or pratical problems caused by these predujical relics. But why should Christians be able to have thier nutty ideas rendered unassailable when all the other nutters have to put up with it. (Ooops am I guilty already? of blasphemy not poor spelling!)

Why is this idea important?

Unlike many proposals this is pure principal. There are almost no prosecutions or pratical problems caused by these predujical relics. But why should Christians be able to have thier nutty ideas rendered unassailable when all the other nutters have to put up with it. (Ooops am I guilty already? of blasphemy not poor spelling!)

Repeal law that allows ‘Super Injunctions’

Taken straight from Wikipedia as I am too lazy and unknowledgeable to do my own:

In England and Wales a new form of injunction known as a "super-injunction" is a form of gagging order in which the press is prohibited from reporting even the existence of the injunction, or any details of it. An example was the super-injunction raised in September 2009 by Carter Ruck solicitors on behalf of oil trader Trafigura, prohibiting the reporting of an internal Trafigura report into the 2006 Ivory Coast waste scandal. The existence of the super-injunction was only revealed when it was referred to in a parliamentary question (mention in which Parliamentary Privelage permits the disclosure without being held in contempt of court), which was circulated on the internet, leading to the injunction being varied (before it could be challenged in court) to permit reporting of the question

Why is this idea important?

Taken straight from Wikipedia as I am too lazy and unknowledgeable to do my own:

In England and Wales a new form of injunction known as a "super-injunction" is a form of gagging order in which the press is prohibited from reporting even the existence of the injunction, or any details of it. An example was the super-injunction raised in September 2009 by Carter Ruck solicitors on behalf of oil trader Trafigura, prohibiting the reporting of an internal Trafigura report into the 2006 Ivory Coast waste scandal. The existence of the super-injunction was only revealed when it was referred to in a parliamentary question (mention in which Parliamentary Privelage permits the disclosure without being held in contempt of court), which was circulated on the internet, leading to the injunction being varied (before it could be challenged in court) to permit reporting of the question

Remove Laws Restricting Free Speech on Race as a Political Issue

To remove laws restricting expression of so-called "racist" or "racialist" ideas. Laws of the sort complained of restrict free speech in what is still an essentially European society.

Why is this idea important?

To remove laws restricting expression of so-called "racist" or "racialist" ideas. Laws of the sort complained of restrict free speech in what is still an essentially European society.

Scrap the nanny state

Get rid of every piece of legislation which is designed to watch us, monitor us, tell us what to do, to scare us, and to decide how each of us should live our lives.

Scap all the registers, lists, records and devices used to control our lives.

Return the right of freedom of speech, freedom of choice, freedom to believe what we want.

Some of us had relatives who died for all these freedoms – give these freedoms back to us.

Stop interferring with our lives in our own homes, and give us back the right to defend them.

And for goodness sake get rid of all this 'political correctness' rubbish.

Why is this idea important?

Get rid of every piece of legislation which is designed to watch us, monitor us, tell us what to do, to scare us, and to decide how each of us should live our lives.

Scap all the registers, lists, records and devices used to control our lives.

Return the right of freedom of speech, freedom of choice, freedom to believe what we want.

Some of us had relatives who died for all these freedoms – give these freedoms back to us.

Stop interferring with our lives in our own homes, and give us back the right to defend them.

And for goodness sake get rid of all this 'political correctness' rubbish.

Freedom of Speech

The full British freedom of speech should be restored, and only open to prosecution if someone is deliberately inciting violence, such as proclaiming “kill the Jews/Muslims/Infidels/Christians etc…

Why is this idea important?

The full British freedom of speech should be restored, and only open to prosecution if someone is deliberately inciting violence, such as proclaiming “kill the Jews/Muslims/Infidels/Christians etc…

Bill of Rights required

To Include;

Public Control of Police Complaints. Abolish IPCC. Power of elected Public Commitee of members of public to directly dismiss Police Officers who, make up the law, abuse powers, deliberately seek to crush public free speech in public places, intimidate tourists, photgraphers and members of the public try to correct their actions. One strike out policy for all officers.

All police officers to swear an oath to serve the public and not government or corporations. All police officers to wear large insignia of "serving the public" on all items of clothing. Police to remove freemasonic black and white insignias from vehicles and uniforms and abolishion of all police lodges at freemasonic halls. IPCC to be investigated for failure to convict any Police Officers for over 1,000 deaths in police custody in last 30 years. No IPCC style system of a regional force to investigate the misdemeanors of another regional police force, public/people led bodies instead.

Other;

Abolition of all newly imposed thought and speech crimes. The absolute and unconditional right to offend and be offended, with exception, in any circumstance. Freedom of speech and free press in all open spaces, a criminal offence and dismissal for a police officer to obstruct free speech without exception. Free speech using an amplified tool to be permitted by law without exception. The setting up and funding of "speakers corners" areas in all UK towns and cities through government funding.

Press Laws;

No media or news information organisation in the UK, to be owned in part, by more than 5%, by any one shareholder or subscriber. No political funding donations to be excepted by any media or news information shareholder, employee, director or subscriber in the UK.

More Tomorrow, …….heres Tom with the weather.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why is this idea important?

To Include;

Public Control of Police Complaints. Abolish IPCC. Power of elected Public Commitee of members of public to directly dismiss Police Officers who, make up the law, abuse powers, deliberately seek to crush public free speech in public places, intimidate tourists, photgraphers and members of the public try to correct their actions. One strike out policy for all officers.

All police officers to swear an oath to serve the public and not government or corporations. All police officers to wear large insignia of "serving the public" on all items of clothing. Police to remove freemasonic black and white insignias from vehicles and uniforms and abolishion of all police lodges at freemasonic halls. IPCC to be investigated for failure to convict any Police Officers for over 1,000 deaths in police custody in last 30 years. No IPCC style system of a regional force to investigate the misdemeanors of another regional police force, public/people led bodies instead.

Other;

Abolition of all newly imposed thought and speech crimes. The absolute and unconditional right to offend and be offended, with exception, in any circumstance. Freedom of speech and free press in all open spaces, a criminal offence and dismissal for a police officer to obstruct free speech without exception. Free speech using an amplified tool to be permitted by law without exception. The setting up and funding of "speakers corners" areas in all UK towns and cities through government funding.

Press Laws;

No media or news information organisation in the UK, to be owned in part, by more than 5%, by any one shareholder or subscriber. No political funding donations to be excepted by any media or news information shareholder, employee, director or subscriber in the UK.

More Tomorrow, …….heres Tom with the weather.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First Amendment – get one

I'm American but I live here now. I'm concerned that you guys just don't seem to get the whole 'freedom of speech' idea. It actually means that people can say whatever they want, bar yelling "Fire!" in a theater or its equivalent, and I'm pretty disturbed that some opinions are illegal here. How is that progressive? Are certain groups so sensitive/special/fragile that it has to be a crime for people to express their prejudices against those groups? Isn't that kind of lawmaking in itself a form of discrimination against those groups?

Not all of you Brits are OK with being thought-policed, right? Fight back (…and no, that is not an incitement to violence, in case any coppers are reading (can I say "coppers", or is that offensive?…I think I just heard a knock at the door…))

Why is this idea important?

I'm American but I live here now. I'm concerned that you guys just don't seem to get the whole 'freedom of speech' idea. It actually means that people can say whatever they want, bar yelling "Fire!" in a theater or its equivalent, and I'm pretty disturbed that some opinions are illegal here. How is that progressive? Are certain groups so sensitive/special/fragile that it has to be a crime for people to express their prejudices against those groups? Isn't that kind of lawmaking in itself a form of discrimination against those groups?

Not all of you Brits are OK with being thought-policed, right? Fight back (…and no, that is not an incitement to violence, in case any coppers are reading (can I say "coppers", or is that offensive?…I think I just heard a knock at the door…))

Freedom of Speech

I truly believe that everyone should have a right to say what they want. Like Voltaire I may not agree with what you may say but I will  defend to the death your right to say it. It has come to a point that whenever you say something you have to assert that your not (e.g) sexist.

Why is this idea important?

I truly believe that everyone should have a right to say what they want. Like Voltaire I may not agree with what you may say but I will  defend to the death your right to say it. It has come to a point that whenever you say something you have to assert that your not (e.g) sexist.

FREEDOM OF SPEECH

I beleive that as an Englishman mine and others have actually lost our freedom of speech due to the race laws and the likes of Harriet Harman and Trevour Phillips and the equalities commission. this is one quango that should go asap as I personally find that they are an attack on decent British people who are now frightened of saying anything in public on any subject as somehow anything seems to be turned into a race issue, this quango should be classed as illeagle in my view and Trevour Phillips shouldn't even have the job he does have as he was appointed by Ms Harman without the permission of parliament as I beleive should have been the case.

Why is this idea important?

I beleive that as an Englishman mine and others have actually lost our freedom of speech due to the race laws and the likes of Harriet Harman and Trevour Phillips and the equalities commission. this is one quango that should go asap as I personally find that they are an attack on decent British people who are now frightened of saying anything in public on any subject as somehow anything seems to be turned into a race issue, this quango should be classed as illeagle in my view and Trevour Phillips shouldn't even have the job he does have as he was appointed by Ms Harman without the permission of parliament as I beleive should have been the case.

Sections 348 & 352 of the Financial Services & Markets Act 2000

Did you know that the law establishing the Financial Services Authority (FSA), an executive agency of the government, gives the agency the right to gag journalists and threatens the freedom of the press?

 

I am an experienced financial journalist and am currently writing a book about the recent financial crisis which will be published next year. I am currently checking facts for my book with various institutions, and I recently received an email from a lawyer at the FSA including the following paragraph:

You appear to intend to refer to the financial condition of RBS (and possibly other banks) during 2008.  On the basis of your e-mails, it is not possible for us to know what information you intend to publish about the bank(s) concerned.  To the extent that the information you intend to publish was originally received by the FSA in the course of carrying out our supervisory functions, it will be "confidential information" for the purposes of the confidentiality regime set up under section 348 of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 ("FSMA").  It is not possible to disclose such information, let alone publish it, unless certain, limited exemptions apply or the consent of the subject of the information (for example RBS) has been obtained.  It seems to us that none of the exemptions will apply to your book, but we do not know if you have obtained RBS's consent.  Assuming you have not, however, you should be aware that the unauthorised disclosure of confidential information is a criminal offence (see section 352 FSMA).

My idea is that the relevant sections of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 be amended or abolished so that no financial regulatory agency can be permitted to threaten or intimidate journalists who wish to disclose information in the public interest and hold the relevant bodies to account.

Why is this idea important?

Did you know that the law establishing the Financial Services Authority (FSA), an executive agency of the government, gives the agency the right to gag journalists and threatens the freedom of the press?

 

I am an experienced financial journalist and am currently writing a book about the recent financial crisis which will be published next year. I am currently checking facts for my book with various institutions, and I recently received an email from a lawyer at the FSA including the following paragraph:

You appear to intend to refer to the financial condition of RBS (and possibly other banks) during 2008.  On the basis of your e-mails, it is not possible for us to know what information you intend to publish about the bank(s) concerned.  To the extent that the information you intend to publish was originally received by the FSA in the course of carrying out our supervisory functions, it will be "confidential information" for the purposes of the confidentiality regime set up under section 348 of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 ("FSMA").  It is not possible to disclose such information, let alone publish it, unless certain, limited exemptions apply or the consent of the subject of the information (for example RBS) has been obtained.  It seems to us that none of the exemptions will apply to your book, but we do not know if you have obtained RBS's consent.  Assuming you have not, however, you should be aware that the unauthorised disclosure of confidential information is a criminal offence (see section 352 FSMA).

My idea is that the relevant sections of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 be amended or abolished so that no financial regulatory agency can be permitted to threaten or intimidate journalists who wish to disclose information in the public interest and hold the relevant bodies to account.

Restore the principles of justice to the British legal system.

Firstly, I'd like to say that this idea is a gimmick.  Nick Clegg may tweak around with a few laws here and there, but look at his flip-flopping on the extradition of Gary McKinnon as soon as he actually was in a position where he could do something about it…

In Britain today, the principles of justice have already been eroded, and will not, I believe, be rediscovered.

Under Section 59 of the Police Reform Act 2002 I can have my vehicle seized on the whim of a police officer, with no involvement of judge or jury.

Under the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 the civil courts can create bespoke criminal offences.  My liberty can be removed if I don't behave in a manner that is not, per se, illegal, but which contravenes directives given to me by the lower institutions of the State.  ASBO legislation does not work, and circumvents the checks and balances built into centuries of British justice (the right to trial by jury, thresholds of evidence etc.)  Freedom of association and curfews can affect those not found guilty of any offence.

Under Section 49 and Section 53 of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA), it is an offence to fail to disclose when requested the key to encrypted data (with a penalty of two years in prison).  My right to silence has been removed.

And while we're at it.  Why is there hate crime legislation?  Surely you should legislate for behaviour, not motivation?  My right to think bad thoughts has been removed 😉

Under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, the police can legally seize my cash.  My right to walk around with a large amount of money in my pocket has been removed.  Seizure of my assets will likely remove my ability to fund my defence in any trial.

Not to mention the large number of fines issued by local authority jobsworths for feeding the birds, putting your bin out on the wrong day, putting rubbish in the wrong bin. All of these things imply a degree of summary justice – pay now it's £40, pay later it's court fees and £300.

Why is my internet usage being monitored? (RIPA).  Every phone call and website I visit. I use internet radio.  The Government has a complete profile of my Radio4 listening!

Speaking of which… the addition of intrusive "Smart Meters" into the Energy Act at the very least has questions over it's legitimacy ( http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/4401188/Lord-Truscott-Peers-charge-up-to-5000-a-day-to-facilitate-law-changes.html ).  Very intrusive, wouldn't you say?

There's much, much more.  It's an impossible task to fix it.  Nothing will change.
 

Why is this idea important?

Firstly, I'd like to say that this idea is a gimmick.  Nick Clegg may tweak around with a few laws here and there, but look at his flip-flopping on the extradition of Gary McKinnon as soon as he actually was in a position where he could do something about it…

In Britain today, the principles of justice have already been eroded, and will not, I believe, be rediscovered.

Under Section 59 of the Police Reform Act 2002 I can have my vehicle seized on the whim of a police officer, with no involvement of judge or jury.

Under the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 the civil courts can create bespoke criminal offences.  My liberty can be removed if I don't behave in a manner that is not, per se, illegal, but which contravenes directives given to me by the lower institutions of the State.  ASBO legislation does not work, and circumvents the checks and balances built into centuries of British justice (the right to trial by jury, thresholds of evidence etc.)  Freedom of association and curfews can affect those not found guilty of any offence.

Under Section 49 and Section 53 of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA), it is an offence to fail to disclose when requested the key to encrypted data (with a penalty of two years in prison).  My right to silence has been removed.

And while we're at it.  Why is there hate crime legislation?  Surely you should legislate for behaviour, not motivation?  My right to think bad thoughts has been removed 😉

Under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, the police can legally seize my cash.  My right to walk around with a large amount of money in my pocket has been removed.  Seizure of my assets will likely remove my ability to fund my defence in any trial.

Not to mention the large number of fines issued by local authority jobsworths for feeding the birds, putting your bin out on the wrong day, putting rubbish in the wrong bin. All of these things imply a degree of summary justice – pay now it's £40, pay later it's court fees and £300.

Why is my internet usage being monitored? (RIPA).  Every phone call and website I visit. I use internet radio.  The Government has a complete profile of my Radio4 listening!

Speaking of which… the addition of intrusive "Smart Meters" into the Energy Act at the very least has questions over it's legitimacy ( http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/4401188/Lord-Truscott-Peers-charge-up-to-5000-a-day-to-facilitate-law-changes.html ).  Very intrusive, wouldn't you say?

There's much, much more.  It's an impossible task to fix it.  Nothing will change.
 

Freedom of Speech: Specific proposals to redress the balance via changes to the Public Order Act 1986 – Final

Firstly, I would suggest the introduction of a safeguard into the Public Order Act 1986 (POA) Part 3A, so that although collectively “inciting hatred” against individuals of religious minority groups is almost always forbidden (as it should be, given that most of its adherents are likely to be innocent), that nevertheless  you can impart such statements as “some individuals of x religious group are dangerous”, because the normative assumption we currently have whereby everyone within a particular group is assumed to be innocent is both speculative and detrimental from a point of view of defending freedom of speech. Libelling an entire group or a majority therein should be the only restriction in this regard. However, with regards to the current wording of the law, it may be very difficult if not technically impossible to impart such opinions as “some members of x religious community are dangerous” (even if true), because the generous guarantees for critical discourse under the Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006 only pertain to criticism of the ideas themselves, not their adherents. The law should make clear, as it did with ideas, that feelings of “antipathy” towards some adherents of such groups are permissible. However, the reform I am suggesting could be sufficiently flexible to prevent such language as “[all] Christians/Muslims are dangerous”, thus catering for the demands of freedom of speech and the pursuit of truth and those of community protection. A truth defence might also achieve a similar level of protection for freedom of speech in this regard, as one does not exist currently for any of the three “incitement to hatred” provisions.

Moreover, there may be limited circumstances where criticisms based on race can be justified, yet this would be inhibited under the POA. For instance, “white/black community leaders are not doing enough to tackle youth crime”. This should not face criminal sanction, because it may very well constitute a criticism based on the truth. Moreover, it may be necessary to engage the attention of relevant community representatives in order to bring about the changes which only they can effectively provide at a grassroots level. However, the current threshold of the POA “likely to incite hatred”, could easily lead to the arrest of anyone imparting such views, even if only intended as a genuinely helpful contribution to public discourse. As a civil libertarian, this troubles me. Therefore, I would suggest an amendment to remove the “likely” threshold and replace it with “advocacy of hatred which at the same time constitutes incitement to cause harm”, or preferably “intentionally stirs up hatred” by itself. The South African constitution utilises the former, and such a threshold would seem slightly more capable of protecting the kind of speech above, yet could still inhibit the public display of the Nazi flag, or the distribution of many racially charged pamphlets. However, only the “intent” threshold could ever fully protect those individuals who wished to make constructive, yet non-hateful criticisms. Section 3A of the Race Relations Act should also be amended as this provides arrest merely for “offensive language” which “violates a person’s dignity”. These stipulations are too broad, and recently turned a councillor into a criminal for calling another a “coconut”. Similarly, the "racially and religiously aggravated" harassment and public order (speech) offences from section 31/32/33 of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 Act should be removed, as they can potentially make a racist out of any one.

Indeed the problems in section 3 of the POA are greatly aggravated by the threshold of “insulting language”, which has a similarly chilling effect on speech because almost any criticism could be classified as insulting to someone. Section 3 could therefore be bought more in line with section 3A (homophobic, anti-religious hatred) in this regard, which only prescribes arrest for “threatening” language.

The criminalisation of “insult” in sections 4a and 5 cannot be considered acceptable in a democracy, because almost any criticism can count as an insult, and should therefore be removed from both section 5 (which prescribes arrest for unintentional insult), and also 4A (which requires intent).To prohibit the use of “abusive” language without further qualification (as is currently the case) could also have potentially chilling effect on freedom of speech. This is because any abstract, impassioned discussion of a particular issue could find itself caught out, even if this did not constitute a hostile one-to-one confrontation which intuitively is where one would expect such a provision to apply. For example, an abstract discussion pertaining to homosexuality and how “homosexual sex is a sin” could find itself inhibited under such an “abusive” threshold, because to some people, a word such as “sin” might constitute abusive discourse. The lack of “intent” as a requirement for such speech would certainly exacerbate this problem. Therefore, only “abusive language which intends to cause distress” would provide sufficient protections for speech.

The intent would have to be affixed to “distress” (though not “harassment” or “alarm” as they should be removed from the Act – see later), not the “abusive” language itself, because otherwise, speech would not be any better protected than it is at present. (cont)

Why is this idea important?

Firstly, I would suggest the introduction of a safeguard into the Public Order Act 1986 (POA) Part 3A, so that although collectively “inciting hatred” against individuals of religious minority groups is almost always forbidden (as it should be, given that most of its adherents are likely to be innocent), that nevertheless  you can impart such statements as “some individuals of x religious group are dangerous”, because the normative assumption we currently have whereby everyone within a particular group is assumed to be innocent is both speculative and detrimental from a point of view of defending freedom of speech. Libelling an entire group or a majority therein should be the only restriction in this regard. However, with regards to the current wording of the law, it may be very difficult if not technically impossible to impart such opinions as “some members of x religious community are dangerous” (even if true), because the generous guarantees for critical discourse under the Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006 only pertain to criticism of the ideas themselves, not their adherents. The law should make clear, as it did with ideas, that feelings of “antipathy” towards some adherents of such groups are permissible. However, the reform I am suggesting could be sufficiently flexible to prevent such language as “[all] Christians/Muslims are dangerous”, thus catering for the demands of freedom of speech and the pursuit of truth and those of community protection. A truth defence might also achieve a similar level of protection for freedom of speech in this regard, as one does not exist currently for any of the three “incitement to hatred” provisions.

Moreover, there may be limited circumstances where criticisms based on race can be justified, yet this would be inhibited under the POA. For instance, “white/black community leaders are not doing enough to tackle youth crime”. This should not face criminal sanction, because it may very well constitute a criticism based on the truth. Moreover, it may be necessary to engage the attention of relevant community representatives in order to bring about the changes which only they can effectively provide at a grassroots level. However, the current threshold of the POA “likely to incite hatred”, could easily lead to the arrest of anyone imparting such views, even if only intended as a genuinely helpful contribution to public discourse. As a civil libertarian, this troubles me. Therefore, I would suggest an amendment to remove the “likely” threshold and replace it with “advocacy of hatred which at the same time constitutes incitement to cause harm”, or preferably “intentionally stirs up hatred” by itself. The South African constitution utilises the former, and such a threshold would seem slightly more capable of protecting the kind of speech above, yet could still inhibit the public display of the Nazi flag, or the distribution of many racially charged pamphlets. However, only the “intent” threshold could ever fully protect those individuals who wished to make constructive, yet non-hateful criticisms. Section 3A of the Race Relations Act should also be amended as this provides arrest merely for “offensive language” which “violates a person’s dignity”. These stipulations are too broad, and recently turned a councillor into a criminal for calling another a “coconut”. Similarly, the "racially and religiously aggravated" harassment and public order (speech) offences from section 31/32/33 of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 Act should be removed, as they can potentially make a racist out of any one.

Indeed the problems in section 3 of the POA are greatly aggravated by the threshold of “insulting language”, which has a similarly chilling effect on speech because almost any criticism could be classified as insulting to someone. Section 3 could therefore be bought more in line with section 3A (homophobic, anti-religious hatred) in this regard, which only prescribes arrest for “threatening” language.

The criminalisation of “insult” in sections 4a and 5 cannot be considered acceptable in a democracy, because almost any criticism can count as an insult, and should therefore be removed from both section 5 (which prescribes arrest for unintentional insult), and also 4A (which requires intent).To prohibit the use of “abusive” language without further qualification (as is currently the case) could also have potentially chilling effect on freedom of speech. This is because any abstract, impassioned discussion of a particular issue could find itself caught out, even if this did not constitute a hostile one-to-one confrontation which intuitively is where one would expect such a provision to apply. For example, an abstract discussion pertaining to homosexuality and how “homosexual sex is a sin” could find itself inhibited under such an “abusive” threshold, because to some people, a word such as “sin” might constitute abusive discourse. The lack of “intent” as a requirement for such speech would certainly exacerbate this problem. Therefore, only “abusive language which intends to cause distress” would provide sufficient protections for speech.

The intent would have to be affixed to “distress” (though not “harassment” or “alarm” as they should be removed from the Act – see later), not the “abusive” language itself, because otherwise, speech would not be any better protected than it is at present. (cont)

Reform of libel laws

Reform the present draconian libel laws, which enable the rich and the privileged to avoid scrutiny of their misdeeds and hypocrisy, inhibit free and fair comment and simply enrich lawyers. The problem is especially acute with 'libel tourism': rich foreigners are able to get injunctions in British courts banning revelations about them even when the items are published abroad and have minimal readership in Britain.

Finally introduce a statutory legal right of free speech akin to the US constitution.

Why is this idea important?

Reform the present draconian libel laws, which enable the rich and the privileged to avoid scrutiny of their misdeeds and hypocrisy, inhibit free and fair comment and simply enrich lawyers. The problem is especially acute with 'libel tourism': rich foreigners are able to get injunctions in British courts banning revelations about them even when the items are published abroad and have minimal readership in Britain.

Finally introduce a statutory legal right of free speech akin to the US constitution.

[*Formatting errors resolved*]Rebalancing the Public Order Act 1986 to protect Freedom of Speech

Firstly, I would suggest the introduction of a safeguard into the Public Order Act 1986 (POA) Part 3A, so that although collectively “inciting hatred” against individuals of religious minority groups is almost always forbidden (as it should be, given that most of its adherents are likely to be innocent), that nevertheless  you can impart such statements as “some individuals of x religious group are dangerous”, because the normative assumption we currently have whereby everyone within a particular group is assumed to be innocent is both speculative and detrimental from a point of view of defending freedom of speech. “Group libel” is the only reasonable compromise in this regard. However, with regards to the current wording of the law, it may be very difficult if not technically impossible to impart such opinions as “some members of x religious community are dangerous” (even where such comments are grounded in the truth), because the generous guarantees for critical discourse under the Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006 only pertain to criticism of the ideas themselves, not their adherents. However, the reform I am suggesting would be sufficiently flexible to prevent such language as “[all] Christians/Muslims are dangerous”, while at the same time not suppressing the truth, thus catering for the demands of freedom of speech and those of community protection . A truth defence might also achieve a similar level of protection for freedom of speech in this regard, as one does not exist currently for any of the three “incitement to hatred” provisions.

Moreover, there may be limited circumstances where criticisms based on race can be justified, yet these would be inhibited under the POA. For instance, “white/black community leaders are not doing enough to tackle youth crime”. This should not face criminal sanction, because it may very well constitute a criticism based on an identifiable truth. Moreover, it may be necessary to engage the attention of relevant community representatives in order to bring about the changes which only they can effectively provide at a grassroots level. However, the current threshold of the POA “likely to incite hatred”, could easily lead to the arrest of anyone imparting such views, even if only intended as a genuinely helpful contribution to public discourse. As a civil libertarian, this troubles me. Therefore, I would suggest an amendment to remove the “likely” threshold and to replace this with “advocacy of hatred which at the same time constitutes incitement to cause harm”. The South African constitution utilises this balance, and such a threshold would seem more capable of protecting the kind of speech I have described above, as it would seemingly fall short of either test. However, at the same time it could prohibit the public display of the Nazi flag, which could easily constitute both, or the distribution of many racially charged pamphlets. Moreover, section 3A of the Race Relations Act should be amended as this provides arrest merely for “offensive language” which “violates a person’s dignity”. These stipulations are too broad, and recently turned a councillor into a criminal for calling another a “coconut”. Similarly, the "racially and religiously aggravated" harassment and public order (speech) offences from section 31/32/33 of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 Act should be removed, as they can potentially make a racist out of any one.

Indeed the problems in section 3 are greatly aggravated by the threshold of “insulting language”, which has a similarly chilling effect on speech because almost any criticism could be classified as insulting to someone. Section 3 could therefore be bought more in line with section 3A (homophobic, anti-religious hatred) in this regard, which only prescribes arrest for “threatening” language.

The criminalisation of “insult” in sections 4a and 5 should not be considered acceptable within a democratic society, because almost any criticism can count as an insult, and therefore this should be removed from all sections of the Act in any future amendment, not only section 5 (which prescribes arrest for unintentional insult), but also 4A (which requires intent).To prohibit the use of “abusive” language without further qualification (as is currently the case) could also have potentially chilling effect on freedom of speech. This is because any abstract, impassioned discussion of a particular issue could find itself caught out, even if this did not constitute a hostile one-to-one confrontation which intuitively is where one would expect such a provision to apply. For example, an abstract discussion pertaining to homosexuality and how “homosexual sex is a sin” could find itself inhibited under such “abusive” threshold, because to some people, a word such as “sin” might constitute abusive discourse. The lack of “intent” as a requirement for such speech would certainly exacerbate this problem. Therefore, only “abusive language which intends to cause distress” would provide sufficient protections for speech.

The intent would have to be affixed to “distress” (though not “harassment” or “alarm” as they should be removed from the Act – explanation later), not the “abusive” language itself, because otherwise, freedom of speech would not be any better protected than it is at present.[ctnd]

Why is this idea important?

Firstly, I would suggest the introduction of a safeguard into the Public Order Act 1986 (POA) Part 3A, so that although collectively “inciting hatred” against individuals of religious minority groups is almost always forbidden (as it should be, given that most of its adherents are likely to be innocent), that nevertheless  you can impart such statements as “some individuals of x religious group are dangerous”, because the normative assumption we currently have whereby everyone within a particular group is assumed to be innocent is both speculative and detrimental from a point of view of defending freedom of speech. “Group libel” is the only reasonable compromise in this regard. However, with regards to the current wording of the law, it may be very difficult if not technically impossible to impart such opinions as “some members of x religious community are dangerous” (even where such comments are grounded in the truth), because the generous guarantees for critical discourse under the Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006 only pertain to criticism of the ideas themselves, not their adherents. However, the reform I am suggesting would be sufficiently flexible to prevent such language as “[all] Christians/Muslims are dangerous”, while at the same time not suppressing the truth, thus catering for the demands of freedom of speech and those of community protection . A truth defence might also achieve a similar level of protection for freedom of speech in this regard, as one does not exist currently for any of the three “incitement to hatred” provisions.

Moreover, there may be limited circumstances where criticisms based on race can be justified, yet these would be inhibited under the POA. For instance, “white/black community leaders are not doing enough to tackle youth crime”. This should not face criminal sanction, because it may very well constitute a criticism based on an identifiable truth. Moreover, it may be necessary to engage the attention of relevant community representatives in order to bring about the changes which only they can effectively provide at a grassroots level. However, the current threshold of the POA “likely to incite hatred”, could easily lead to the arrest of anyone imparting such views, even if only intended as a genuinely helpful contribution to public discourse. As a civil libertarian, this troubles me. Therefore, I would suggest an amendment to remove the “likely” threshold and to replace this with “advocacy of hatred which at the same time constitutes incitement to cause harm”. The South African constitution utilises this balance, and such a threshold would seem more capable of protecting the kind of speech I have described above, as it would seemingly fall short of either test. However, at the same time it could prohibit the public display of the Nazi flag, which could easily constitute both, or the distribution of many racially charged pamphlets. Moreover, section 3A of the Race Relations Act should be amended as this provides arrest merely for “offensive language” which “violates a person’s dignity”. These stipulations are too broad, and recently turned a councillor into a criminal for calling another a “coconut”. Similarly, the "racially and religiously aggravated" harassment and public order (speech) offences from section 31/32/33 of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 Act should be removed, as they can potentially make a racist out of any one.

Indeed the problems in section 3 are greatly aggravated by the threshold of “insulting language”, which has a similarly chilling effect on speech because almost any criticism could be classified as insulting to someone. Section 3 could therefore be bought more in line with section 3A (homophobic, anti-religious hatred) in this regard, which only prescribes arrest for “threatening” language.

The criminalisation of “insult” in sections 4a and 5 should not be considered acceptable within a democratic society, because almost any criticism can count as an insult, and therefore this should be removed from all sections of the Act in any future amendment, not only section 5 (which prescribes arrest for unintentional insult), but also 4A (which requires intent).To prohibit the use of “abusive” language without further qualification (as is currently the case) could also have potentially chilling effect on freedom of speech. This is because any abstract, impassioned discussion of a particular issue could find itself caught out, even if this did not constitute a hostile one-to-one confrontation which intuitively is where one would expect such a provision to apply. For example, an abstract discussion pertaining to homosexuality and how “homosexual sex is a sin” could find itself inhibited under such “abusive” threshold, because to some people, a word such as “sin” might constitute abusive discourse. The lack of “intent” as a requirement for such speech would certainly exacerbate this problem. Therefore, only “abusive language which intends to cause distress” would provide sufficient protections for speech.

The intent would have to be affixed to “distress” (though not “harassment” or “alarm” as they should be removed from the Act – explanation later), not the “abusive” language itself, because otherwise, freedom of speech would not be any better protected than it is at present.[ctnd]

The Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006

This act should be repealed as it is an attack on our basic rights of free speech and freedom of expression. Is it sensible that someone's beliefs can be given the status of being publicly unquestionable by this law? It is surely our basic right to be able to clearly, openly and publicly question beliefs or opinions which others wish to force upon us as "eternal or universal truths". This surely remains the case even if offence or ridicule is involved.

There are sufficient safeguards within existing legislation to ensure that anyone who abuses our hard-won freedoms can be suitably restrained. If this can be shown not to be the case, and sufficient grounds for concern can be demonstrated, then the case for additional law may be made, of course. The Act as it stands goes too far in the direction of protecting "beliefs" and seriously undermines  freedom of speech and expression. It has been said that this is not the case and any judge would dismiss a case involving mere offence or ridicule. It seems to me that to have an Act that allows such prosecutions to be brought in the first place is obviously ill-conceived. It should be repealed.

Why is this idea important?

This act should be repealed as it is an attack on our basic rights of free speech and freedom of expression. Is it sensible that someone's beliefs can be given the status of being publicly unquestionable by this law? It is surely our basic right to be able to clearly, openly and publicly question beliefs or opinions which others wish to force upon us as "eternal or universal truths". This surely remains the case even if offence or ridicule is involved.

There are sufficient safeguards within existing legislation to ensure that anyone who abuses our hard-won freedoms can be suitably restrained. If this can be shown not to be the case, and sufficient grounds for concern can be demonstrated, then the case for additional law may be made, of course. The Act as it stands goes too far in the direction of protecting "beliefs" and seriously undermines  freedom of speech and expression. It has been said that this is not the case and any judge would dismiss a case involving mere offence or ridicule. It seems to me that to have an Act that allows such prosecutions to be brought in the first place is obviously ill-conceived. It should be repealed.

Freedom of expression and freedom of conscience

Any person should be free to express their beliefs,religious or otherwise,and act according to their conscience without being criminalised. Likewise,any person should be free to disagree with those beliefs without being criminalised.

Why is this idea important?

Any person should be free to express their beliefs,religious or otherwise,and act according to their conscience without being criminalised. Likewise,any person should be free to disagree with those beliefs without being criminalised.