Thursday, October 18, 2012

"There is no right not to be offended"

We shouldn't be rude, but rudeness shouldn't be illegal. There are increasing calls for the criminalizing of speech that wounds, placing freedom under the control of the aggrieved and of the state. Thank goodness for the First Amendment. Britain doesn't have anything comparable, but it does have defenders of free speech:
The Blackadder and Mr Bean star attacked the "creeping culture of censoriousness" which has resulted in the arrest of a Christian preacher, a critic of Scientology and even a student making a joke, it was reported.

He criticised the "new intolerance" as he called for part of it the Public Order Act to be repealed, saying it was having a "chilling effect on free expression and free protest".

Mr Atkinson said: "The clear problem of the outlawing of insult is that too many things can be interpreted as such. Criticism, ridicule, sarcasm, merely stating an alternative point of view to the orthodoxy, can be interpreted as insult."

Police and prosecutors are accused of being over-zealous in their interpretation of Section 5 of the Act, which outlaws threatening, abusive and insulting words or behaviour, the Daily Mail reported.

What constitutes "insulting" is not clear. It has resulted in a string of controversial arrests.

They include a 16-year-old boy being held for peacefully holding a placard reading "Scientology is a dangerous cult", and gay rights campaigners from the group Outrage! detained when they protested against Islamic fundamentalist group Hizb ut-Tahrir over its stance on gays, Jews and women. ....

Speaking at the Westminster launch of the campaign, he added: "The law should not be aiding and abetting the new intolerance."

He was joined by Lord Dear, former chief constable of West Midlands Police, and former shadow home secretary David Davis.

Mr Davis said: "The simple truth is that in a free society, there is no right not to be offended. For centuries, freedom of speech has been a vital part of British life, and repealing this law will reinstate that right." ....
Rowan Atkinson: we must be allowed to insult each other - Telegraph