Here in UK we like to think of ourselves as being free. Freedom of speech is cornerstone of liberty, allowing the individual full ownership over their thoughts, allowing the sharing of ideas, and allowing criticism of the sate policies. But does the UK have freedom of speech?
Under the common law, which was spread throughout the Anglosphere by the British Empire, one has a negative right to free speech. This means it is generally not permissible by law for your expression to be limited.
The problem is that common law (law made by the courts) is completely subservient to Acts of Parliament. In the UK’s unwritten constitution, Parliament is sovereign and as such can make any law it wishes to violate freedom of expression. And that’s exactly what has happened.
Free Speech Undermined
Public Order Act 1986
There are many Acts of Parliament which curtail freedom of expression. Unlike our US brothers, we do have an entrenched constitution guaranteeing freedom of speech.
The Public Order Act 1986 makes it a criminal offence to cause alarm or distress, incite racial or religious hatred and to incite hatred based on sexual orientation.
The term ‘hatred’ is not given a definition. As such, there have been many infringements of freedom expression caused by this confusing law.
Obviously, calling on others to commit acts of violence against a person or group should be illegal – and it is anyway, by the common law offence of incitement – so why do we need an Act of Parliament? The logical conclusion is that it is to limit speech which does not call for violence or crimes to be committed.
Under the Public Order Act 1986 we have had:
- The arrest of Dale McAlpine, a Christian preacher, for calling homosexual conduct a sin
- Arrest of Paul Weston, a Liberty GB election candidate, for quoting the anti-Islam writings of Winston Churchill
- The conviction of Harry Taylor, for leaving anti-religious cartoons in an airport prayer-room
- The trial and acquittal of Christian couple Ben and Sharon Vogelenzang after a Muslim woman claimed they insulted her hijab
- The arrest of Stephen Green for distributing pamphlets calling sexual activity between members of the same sex a sin
- Convictions of Simon Sheppard and Stephen Whittle, for calling the Holocaust a hoax and claiming blacks are not equal to whites
Malicious Communications Act 1988 & Communications Act 2003
The Malicious Communications Act 1988 makes it a criminal offence to ‘send or deliver letters or other articles for the purpose of causing distress or anxiety’.
Similarly, the Communications Act 2003 criminalises sending ‘a message or other matter that is grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character’.
These two Acts are the main tools to censor free speech online.
These two laws are mostly subjective. The offence relies on the recipients proclivity for feelings of distress or the taking of offence.
- The arrest of a 17 year old for sending Team GB Diver Tom Daley a tweet saying that Daley had let his dead father down
- Jail time for 21 year old Liam Stacey for posting a series of racial tweets surrounding footballer Fabrice Muamba’s on pitch cardiac arrest
- The trial and acquittal of Pastor James McConnell, who called Islam the ‘spawn of Satan’
- The Twitter Joke Trial, in which Paul Chambers joked about blowing up an airport due to delays
But some of these didn’t result in convictions, so what’s the big deal? Whether the arrests resulted in convictions or not, these laws still have a chilling effect on free speech.
You’re faced with the choice – post something edgy which could result in a night in a jail cell – or don’t bother posting it at all. I know which option most people choose.
In 2015, 1,903 people were found guilty of offences under the above Acts. Widespread censorship is taking place.
Also bear in mind that it was the “””Conservative””” government that upped the jail time from 6 months to 2 years for offences under the Labour enacted Communications Act 2003. And UKIP gets called fascist.
Human Rights Act
But what about the Human Rights Act 1998 which incorporates the European Convention on Human Rights into UK law? Surely that enshrines freedom of expression in the UK?
All but two of the rights stemming from the ECHR can be subject to certain restrictions that are ‘in accordance with law’ and ‘necessary in a democratic society’. Which basically means governments can do whatever they want. No fundamental inalienable freedoms for you, Europe!
The Human Rights Act is garbage and should be scrapped. There will be an article on it in the near future.
So what’s the big deal? Some guys said stuff which offended a few people and were arrested for it. That’s not going to affect me, right?
Well, the precedent is there for the UK government to imprison you for things you say or tweet. Once a government gets these powers, it is extremely rare for it to relinquish them. Instead, it will often seek to expand them. We’re moving in the direction of less freedom, not more.
You can have free speech or you can have hate speech. You can’t have both.
If Ed Miliband had been elected in 2015, he would have made ‘Islamophobia’ a criminal offence. Even though fear of being called an Islamophobe is the main reason why Muslim sex gangs are permitted to rape white girls up and down the country.
London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, is spending taxpayers money to set up a crack team of Internet Censors to root out hate speech.
As studies have shown, diversity + proximity = war. Conflict between cultures is natural and has been proven throughout recorded history. We are seeing the beginnings of this axiom manifest itself throughout the West.
What is unnatural is for the political elite to have forced multiculturalism on the people of Europe against their will. And now that cracks are developing, they are using hate speech laws to paper over them.
If the UK was culturally homogeneous, would there be any need for hate speech laws? Does the importing of a culture which is offended by the very idea of free speech have anything to do with the expansion of hate speech laws?
If you want to challenge the Leftist orthodoxy on the benefits of, for example, multiculturalism you could, in future, end up in prison for your crime.
We must stand up for free speech wherever we can. We most protest every violation. We must support pro free speech media. We must not vote for parties who will limit free speech.
We must stand with our US brothers in defending the First Amendment.