by Chauncey Tinker – 11 Mar 2020
The overall objective of this campaign is to restore a meaningful degree of freedom of speech under UK law. In the last two posts I set out two specific objectives to this end, which are to have the words “hatred” and “offensive” removed from our laws. Both words are highly subjective, and we cannot expect that the law will be applied fairly as long as there is so much room for the judge and jury’s personal opinions to influence the verdict in a court case.
To accomplish the objectives I propose very simply to encourage people to write to their MPs to get the relevant laws amended. For convenience I summarize here the key places where these words appear in our laws currently (if you know of other laws that you think should be amended then please let us know in the comments below):
I hereby call for the abolition in its entirety of the Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006, for the reasons set out in Part 2. I furthermore call for the removal of all other references to the words hate and hatred from our laws, and I call for all references to the phrases “hate incidents” and “hate crime” to be removed from police guidelines.
I hereby call for the removal in its entirety of section 127 of the Communications Act of 2003, for the reasons set out in Part 3. I think the Malicious Communications Act of 1988 also needs to be amended to remove the phrase “grossly offensive”.
It will probably be more effective if readers write letters in their own words, because if MPs are deluged with identical copies of the same letter they will soon start to ignore them. If you write a letter in your own personal style it also demonstrates that you care about the issue and feel strongly enough to take some time to write. If you want to write to your MP about either one or both of the above objectives then please do so as you think best, it may in fact be better to focus on one or the other in a single letter.
I think a good letter would include the specific references to the particular laws mentioned above, and should at the least I think make the point that these are subjective terms, and that their presence in our laws is leading to unequal application of the law. I think a strong argument in both cases is that the unequal application of the law is fostering division in society. It would probably be useful to refer to specific cases, either the ones I referred to in the two previous posts (see links again below) or other relevant cases that you know of.
In all honesty I think that writing to many of our MPs on this subject is probably a waste of time, I doubt very much if many on the Labour benches in particular really care at all about the issue of the freedom of speech. However if we could even persuade just one MP to say put forward a private members’ bill then that would be a start, as it would force at least some debate on the issue in the House of Commons. The MPs most likely to take this issue seriously probably reside in the ranks of the Conservative Party, and so especially if you live in a constituency with a Conservative MP then please consider taking the trouble to write to them on this matter.
I think that it may take some time to accomplish the objectives, possibly many years, not least because the UK Government is currently preoccupied heavily with the negotiation of trade deals following Brexit. This will be a difficult campaign also because our politicians are very fond of enacting legislation but they very seldom repeal any legislation. We will need to endeavour to persevere and be prepared for a long campaign, as with Brexit. You can help by writing to your MP as suggested above, and also by linking to this page at opportune moments in debates at other sites and on social media. A further way you can help the campaign is by linking to other relevant cases in the comments section below, and once again I invite readers to add their thoughts in the comments section as well.
Through our complacency we have allowed our freedom of speech to be eroded over a number of years. Now is the time to reverse this grave error, as without a meaningful degree of freedom of speech our whole way of life is imperilled. Finally I leave you with the words of George Washington:
“If freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.”
An introduction to the campaign:
A Campaign Against De Facto Hate Speech Laws – Part 1
In the next post I outlined my first campaign objective, which is to have the word ‘hatred’ removed entirely from UK law:
A Campaign Against De Facto Hate Speech Laws – Part 2
In the next post I outlined my second campaign objective, which is to have the word ‘offensive’ removed from UK law:
A Campaign Against De Facto Hate Speech Laws – Part 3 – Offensive Communications
What do you think? Please leave a comment below.