by Chauncey Tinker – 27 Apr 2018
Eight days ago, a story appeared in the media about the sentencing of a young woman who had posted a rap lyric on Instagram as a tribute to a boy who had died in a road accident. The rap lyric included a reference to the “n-word”, a euphemism which I must use I suppose because if I don’t I could fall foul of the thought police squad myself. In fact, I hesitate a little bit to use even the euphemism, because everyone surely knows what it means and so perhaps I could fall foul of the law even for using that.
Considering the circumstances of her post, it seems highly unlikely that she intended to cause any offence at all, and there is also no suggestion that there was any such intention in the media articles. Perhaps the boy in question liked that particular rapper’s music – surely a sign that neither the young woman nor the boy harboured any sort of racist feelings towards black people. For this “hate crime”, she was given an 8-week community order and she will now have a criminal record. Quote from an article at the BBC:
She was given an eight-week community order, placed on an eight-week curfew and told to pay costs of £500 and an £85 victim surcharge.
Apparently the defence argued that the superstar rapper Jay-Z had used the word at a Glastonbury pop concert and had not been prosecuted.
After quite a brief internet search we quickly found a lot of very criminally grossly offensive content that contains the n-word. For example, even Wikipedia has an entry which uses the grossly offensive word actually IN THE TITLE (I have substituted *s for the letters in the title for the sake of those easily triggered). DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES CLICK ON THIS LINK:
We also found a criminally grossly offensive article in the Independent which actually uses the “n-word” (i.e. not the euphemism). DAMN it is difficult trying to talk about this without actually using the word:
Samuel L Jackson: Tarantino, racism and the N-word
Quote (NB – note that again I use * characters in this quote to obscure the grossly offensive word, but the Independent printed it uncensored!):
In the US, Jackson took one journalist to task for questioning Tarantino’s excessive use of the word “******” in the script (110 times, according to one count). Except that the reporter referred to it as “the N-word”. Jackson goaded him into saying it. “Say it! Try it! We’re not going to have this conversation until you try it!” When I mention to Jackson that Tarantino’s script has caused a lot of controversy for its excessive use of the word, I get a sarcastic “Really?” in reply.
Do the police have any comment about the fact that they haven’t prosecuted the Independent for use of the word, despite the fact that this is a widely read UK based news and opinion website? Surely far more people must be being exposed to this article than would have seen the Instagram tribute post? The above uses surely indicate that the n-word has re-entered common usage and is now not derogatory in that usage, the defence made a very good point then in fact.
If the law had changed since 2013 then this oversight might be understandable, but the problem is that the law has not changed since 2013. What has changed is that we now have a Home Secretary (Amber Rudd) who is even more zealous in its prosecution than the former Home Secretary (Theresa May). The head of the CPS, Alison Saunders, has also been zealous in her pursuit of “hate crime” although fortunately she won’t be in that post for much longer of course.
The thing that struck me most about this case was the fact that it was the police officer (herself black) in the “hate crime unit” who seems to have been the person most offended by the Instagram tribute post. It was reported to the police by someone who presumably was offended by it, but in one article we see this:
The court heard that Ms Walker was the sister of Anthony Walker, who was the victim of a notorious race hate murder on Merseyside.
She said: “As a black woman I found the words offensive and upsetting. The words are offensive to both black and white people.”
PC Walker also asked Carole Clarke, defending, not to use the word n**** in the court because she found it so offensive.
The last sentence I find particularly troubling, because if we are getting to the point where we can’t talk about the very thing a court case is about during the court proceedings, then how on earth can a sensible judgement be reached about it?
Count Dankula was also recently sentenced, in his case the sentence was an £800 fine and he has become something of a celebrity in the process. He has succeeded in raising over £100,000 for an appeal. Perhaps if there is any money left over from his appeal he might consider using it to set up a fund to help with less high profile cases such as this one.
Appeals should normally be launched almost immediately after the sentencing because there are “strict time limits” apparently. Unfortunately those who are less well off and/or not in the public gaze will tend to be unaware of the law and will be unlikely to think it worthwhile to appeal, but if we managed to contact them while their trial is in progress we could perhaps offer help and persuade them to appeal in the event of a “guilty” verdict. Only by giving maximum publicity to these ridiculous verdicts will we manage to put pressure on the government to repeal this highly subjective law (the Communications Act 2003) which serves nobody but lawyers. We must end this madness.
From the BBC:
Woman guilty of ‘racist’ Snap Dogg rap lyric Instagram post
From the Liverpool Echo:
Woman who posted rap lyrics as tribute on Instagram guilty of sending offensive message
From the Courts and Tribunals Judiciary:
The Principle of the Thing - Equality Before The Law
What do you think? Please leave a comment below.